FACTORYVILLE — The James sisters, Victoria, 12, and Ava, 8, were among a group of approximately 50 children who attended a Young Eagles Rally sponsored by the Endless Mountain Pilots Association at Seaman’s Airport in Factoryville on May 30.
Victoria and Ava, Nicholson residents, opted for a free airplane ride offered to children 8 to 17 years old.
Following the girls’ flight with pilot Ed Carter, of Clarks Summit, and his granddaughter, Emily Pettigrew, of Kingston, Victoria said maybe she’d like to be a pilot. Her reaction to the trip was “everything looked really small. The Nicholson Bridge looked really small. The takeoff was fine, but the landing was a little bumpy.”
Ava was a little nervous and noted she found out about the rally through her school. “They passed out a paper at the school about this (rally).”
Youngsters who participated at the rally received a packet of information that included a certificate and a flight log.
The pilots belong to Chapter 1458 of a national organization known as Experimental Aircraft Association, EAA, headquartered in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, according to private pilot and Young Eagles coordinator Ray Collins.
“All chapters are based at an airport. Our major activity is this one (rally) held in the spring and fall,” said Collins
A pilot for 30 years, Collins explained, “The pilots donate their time and pay for the fuel. We think this is the ripe age to introduce children to flying. Many of them have never been in a plane, even a commercial airline. This is exciting for the pilots and the kids.”
Collins was just out of college when he said, “I went flying and started flying then. Everybody has dreams on their pillows at night about flying.”
Jim Hunt, Endless Mountains Pilots president, said the following planes at the rally were flown by their owners or renters: two Cessna 172 Skyhawks, piloted by Glenn Mikolaczyk and Ed Carter; a Beech Sierra, piloted by Dennis Moran, a Piper Cherokee, piloted by Dennis Johnson, a Mooney, piloted by Larry Newhart and a American Champion Citabria, piloted by Hunt.
“We do this twice a year and it’s a very important part of our desire to introduce kids to the world of aviation,” Hunt noted via email.
Representatives from Commonwealth Medical air ambulance were also on hand.
“Today is special,” Collins said. “Since our last Young Eagles (Rally), they’ve added an air ambulance here at the airport. While they’re on the ground today, they’re able to show the helicopter to the children and their parents.”