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The Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 132 will offer free rides to children from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 21, in planes like this Cessna 172 Catalina at Elkhart Municipal Airport. (Photo Supplied)
Elkhart air buffs hope to inspire Young Eagles with free flights

Posted on June 17, 2014 at 5:51 p.m.

A group of Elkhart area flight enthusiasts hope to inspire a love of aviation in kids by offering them free flights Saturday, June 21, at Elkhart Municipal Airport.

From 9 a.m. to noon, children ages 8 to 17 will be taken up in flights lasting five to 10 minutes, usually about 600 to 1,000 feet above ground, said Doug Busch, event coordinator.

The semiannual event, called Young Eagles, is orchestrated by the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 132. Busch noted the planes used in these rides, despite the group’s name, are not experimental and have been certified as aviation worthy by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The day also will include tours of the airport’s control tower, exhibitions of racing vintage planes and an up-close look at a plane with its cowlings and skin removed so that its inner workings are visible.

"Not every kid is going to want to be a pilot, so we wanted to expose them to some of the other facets of aviation,“ said Busch, an Osceola chiropractor and certified pilot whose father was an aviation mechanic with Delta Airlines.

Busch said the national EAA was founded about 40 years ago, and the local chapter has been putting on Young Eagles events for about a decade, typically in June and October. He said he knows several young adults who came to such events as children and are now enjoying careers as commercial pilots. About 70 kids were taken up in flights at last June’s event.

In addition to the free plane ride, the children will receive a flight log book to record their flight, a certificate and login information to receive a free online ground school course, courtesy of Sporty’s Aviation.