by Scott Thompson
The chapter leadership continues to move forward on several initiatives as winter draws to a close and we look forward to an active spring. There are two main goals that have emerged from discussions by the chapter board of directors. We are intent on getting a youth scholarship
program going in the near term, and we are going to hold some Young Eagles Rallies this year. Both of these goals require some planning, much of which has now been accomplished. We now transition into the action phase.
For the youth scholarship program, the board will discuss a proposal for a ground school scholarship program at this month’s board meeting on Wednesday, March 14. This proposed program will fund ground schools for a number of young people who we hope will come forward looking toward aviation as a career field. It is my intent that this proposal, if and when implemented, is just a first step.
I think it appropriate to establish a permanent board scholarship committee to build on this first program to encompass flight training and have the goal of sending at least one deserving teen to the Aviation Camp program conducted by the national EAA organization at Oshkosh each summer. I hope to establish a chapter designated fund for these scholarships and conduct specific fund-raising activities to keep the money flowing in and out.
Though not directly related, the Young Eagles program also seeks to interest youth in aviation as either a profession or a hobby. The Young Eagles program, as administered by the EAA, has flown over two million young people in the last three decades. Some would point to the program as just offering a “free airplane ride to a kid” and something that has not delivered huge dividends for the aviation industry. However, the EAA just announced that more than 50,000 Young Eagle flyers have gone on to enroll in a follow-on ground school offered by Sportys. It is hard to actually track how many Young Eagles have become pilots, maintenance technicians, air traffic controllers, or just airplane enthusiasts. But, one surefire way we can encourage growth of our otherwise stunted general aviation industry is through one-on-one introduction and encouragement of individuals by individuals, and that is what Young Eagles is all about.
Along the same lines, our chapter will hold a community “Open Hangar” event on Saturday, April 28. We have a good speaker that anchors the event, a aerobatic pilot and writer named Beth Stanton, who will speak to overcoming fears of life, whether overcoming fear of aerobatics, fear of taking a risk, or any other number of challenges facing people in modern life, especially young people.
I am hoping that we get a good number of young people, especially young women, to attend. I think Beth Stanton will speak to them in a special way. If you have teen-aged kids or grandkids looking to the future with questions, bring them out to our event on April 28. We are planning some other aviation-related activities to go along with the theme and will also have some airplanes available for folks to take a close look at. We are reaching out to the wider community for attendance, but please invite those around you to also come out and see what aviation, EAA, sport flying, and the Lincoln Airport have to offer.
It is all well and good to enjoy the social and other hangar-flying aspects of our EAA chapter, but I hope we can also look at the larger picture of what our chapter, other EAA chapters, and other aviation groups can do to introduce and encourage investment in the challenging, technical, exciting and, happily, fun of flying machines and the aviation industry.
As our chapter leadership moves on these initiatives, you should know that any member is welcome to attend our chapter board meetings. We welcome any input to help make what our chapter does more successful.