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Young Eagles

Unlike this happy Young Eagle, no flying for me this weekend.

My Cherokee was diagnosed with a sick magneto on Thursday, which had to go to Tulsa for overhaul (hopefully under warranty.) So I had to hitch a ride to Cranland (28M) for the EAA Chapter Fly-In Pancake Breakfast. Which was great. But the highlight of the week was the second round of Young Eagles flights on Saturday morning. Some of our local pilots took 16 more Taunton High School JROTC students up for their first flights in an airplane. The sky was overcast but absolutely calm, and the kids were great, all smiles and polite appreciation. It seemed to be a complete success.

The only sour note – and it was a big one – was our airport manager.

He came over and demanded that we have a $1,000,000 (yes, million!) insurance policy for the “event,” naming the airport as beneficiary. Which is news to all of us, since we’ve been inviting friends to come to the airport and fly with us for years, with no mention of “event insurance.” The Young Eagles were our invited guests, and each pilot and airplane was covered by EAA insurance for Young Eagle flights. The was no invitation for the general public to go flying, no aerobatics, no formation flying, no low passes, no “spectacle.” Just free airplane rides for some very deserving young people.

We polled some other airport managers who told us that Young Eagle flights were no different than any other “not for hire” flight, and that pilots were welcome to bring anyone to their Public Use Airports for a flight. But that wasn’t good enough for our manager, who is not a pilot. He stated that the Young Eagles “Didn’t know what they were getting into,” (whatever that means) even though each had a signed permission slip from a parent. In fact, many of the parents attended to watch and photograph the flights.

Unfortunately, the manager’s tone and conduct was rather shameful for our airport, especially when you consider that our user fees pay for his contract. (The airport does not receive a dime from the city.)  But as Melinda, the president of our association succinctly told him in a letter, “Flying may happen from time to time at the airport.”