Kids sported big smiles and parents looked relieved as their progeny stepped out of planes Saturday morning at Airlake Airport in Lakeville.The children took to the skies as part of the Young Eagles program put on by the Experimental Aircraft Association.
The Twin Cities EAA Chapter 25 sponsors the Young Eagles program the third Saturday of each month. Volunteer pilots with the program take children, 8 to 17 years old, into the skies. The pilots donate their time, planes and fuel for the events.
The 360 Communities Rosemount Family Resource Center took a group of 12 children out to the airport Saturday to participate in the program. Volunteer coordinator Shira Rabinowicz said the goal of the field trip was to expose teens to career opportunities in the aviation field.
"We want to open their minds to the different career paths that are out there," said Rabinowicz.
Rabinowicz said it's important to show kids what careers are out there to give them something to aim for.
"It motivates them and gets them to work toward something," said Rabinowicz.
For many of the kids who went out to Airlake, it was their first time on an airplane. Rabinowicz said most of the kids relished the opportunity and even said that the experience had sparked an interest in aviation.
"It was just awesome," said Rabinowicz.
Chapter member Bill Brown said the EAA chapter hosts the events to help encourage an interest in aviation as a hobby and possible career. Brown said there are a declining number of pilots in the United States. In addition to a free airplane ride the children also receive materials on flying.
Brown said the program is fun for the children and volunteers alike.
"Many have never been on an airplane and when they come out of the airplane they have huge smiles on their faces," said Brown.
While some of the parents looked nervous, Brown said the program is safe and a good opportunity to expose kids to flying. The chapter has been offering the program for 20 years.
The EAA is a community of aviation enthusiasts. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in aviation.
Young Eagles is a free program and is available to anyone. Call Bill Brown for more details at 952-432-4231.