by Scott Thompson
We’ve had some comments recently that our EAA chapter seems to be a pretty active chapter and, looking at our calendar, I would have to agree. We do have a lot going on and there is more coming. Our chapter has some excellent opportunities we are pursuing and hope to turn some into initiatives in the near future.
To start, I want to make sure that everyone is aware of the great success enjoyed by our two sponsored EAA Air Academy students this past month at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Their experience at the Air Academy was the culmination of a process our chapter started about this time last year…in seeking to take advantage of the fund raising we did for the Richard and Susan Bristow Memorial Scholarship Program. We had a lengthy selection process that evaluated nine applicants, all students, for a “full-ride” sponsorship at the EAA Air Academy. The two young women we selected, Amy Whelan and Sara Wallin, both enjoyed their week-long camps at the EAA HQ facility at Oshkosh learning about the many opportunities for fun and career in the aviation world.
As part of the sponsorship award, both Amy and Sarah are going to report back to the chapter on their Air Academy experiences at the August Member meeting to be held Wednesday evening, August 21, at our chapter hangar.
Initial reports by Amy and Sarah were so enthusiastic that our chapter board has decided to continue our program and sponsor, again, two Air Academy students to attend next summer. Information about the application and evaluation process is forthcoming, but expect applications to be due by January 31, 2020, with sponsorships awarded by March 1, 2020, for Air Academy weeks in July 2020. To make this happen, we are also going to need to do some specific fundraising to support our scholarship program, so look for that in the near future too.
We also have had some direct reports from attendees at the big EAA AirVenture convention at Oshkosh. We had at least a dozen from our chapter make the trek to Oshkosh for the big show the last week of July. They brought back some excellent information about some specific programs coming available to chapters, among them being some new Young Eagle initiatives and a chapter recognition program.
The EAA chapter recognition program is growing in importance as it can help meet evaluation standards for such EAA initiatives as the Ray Scholarship (worth $10,000 to qualified scholars for flight training). If we are going to be a busy and active chapter, we might as well get recognized for it and take advantage of EAA opportunities.
As sliding into our expanding youth outreach, you also need to be aware that our chapter will hold another Airport Fun Day on Saturday, September 14, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. This is an opportunity to invite the general public out to see our airport and our chapter in action. We have planned some local involvement from William Jessup’s new aviation program, the local DART team, a radio-control aircraft display, a flight simulator, and more. The Fun Day proved to be an unexpectedly popular event when we held the first one last April. I ask that all chapter members plan on giving this effort five hours of volunteer time on that Saturday. We need help in everything from cooking a hot dog lunch to ramp security to parking assistance. The more the merrier so please raise your hand when we come asking to put names down for our different teams.
The Airport Fun Day is a segue into our next Young Eagle Rally to be held on Saturday, October 12, with five blocks of flights to be flown between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm. We expect to once again fly 75 Young Eagles on that day. Registration for the Young Eagle Rally, which provides free flights experiences for young people aged 8 through 17, will open at our Airport Fun Day on September 14. It is like we planned to tie it all together because, well, we did.
There is more stuff going on in the background, but these are major events we are planning for September and October, so please join our chapter’s efforts to spread the good word about aviation. There are many opportunities to get involved and, for me, I thank those that do get involved because it could not be done otherwise.
Finally, you will note a new look to this chapter newsletter this month. Dan Masys has agreed to take on the job of compiling and editing the newsletter. Dan has done this for other chapters in the past and I’m looking forward to some new ideas and formatting changes. For me, I did my first newsletter for the chapter in August 2016, and so compiled a total of 36 over the three years. Time constraints require that I let go of this worthy task, so I am grateful that Dan has stepped up to take on the job. Please help Dan out with photos and written contributions…it makes newsletters so much easier to prepare and more interesting by having a variety of contributors.