Saturday, May 29, 2010

First Young Eagle!

Plane: Cessna 150
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Haze, 75 degrees, wind 060 degrees at 7 knots

Today I had the opportunity to mark another goal off my list from the beginning of this year by taking my first Young Eagle flying. My boss' daughter, Emily, is 11 and absolutely loves airplanes. We've been trying to figure out a time for me to take her flying for months and today is when it finally worked out. So instead of just taking her flying I thought we might as well make it an official Young Eagle flight.

We flew over the lake and over their house before returning to Stewart

I arrived at the airport about 20 minutes before them so that I could do a thorough preflight and fuel the airplane. We were flying in the 150 since both Cubs were already reserved for nearly the entire day. Plus, this way we could wear headsets so communication would be easier. They arrived just as I was ready to taxi over to the fuel pump.

I already knew that Emily wanted me to show her the airplane before we climbed in so I basically went through a preflight again, explaining what things were and what they did. It took about five minutes and then she and her dad walked over to the parking lot so I could safely taxi to the pump. They watched to see how I fueled the airplane and then I helped her inside after making sure she could work the door latch.

Drying the morning dew off the windshield

Our airplane for the day - I've got nearly 100 hours in 338 now

Showing her the cockpit

Once she was secure I explained how we use checklists as I went through mine and started the engine. I then taxied away from the pump towards the end of Runway 8 as we waved goodbye to her dad. While taxiing (to the opposite end of the airport from the fuel pump, so it took a couple minutes) I explained a few more things about flying like how we sometimes talk on the radio but not to air traffic controllers. At the end of the runway I went through the entire pre-takeoff checklist and explained what I was looking for. Her enthusiastic "yes!" when I asked if she was ready to go flying was indication enough that it was time to get airborne.

You could see the haze over the valley on climbout

It was a bit hazy and humid and you could see the mist down in the valley as we lifted off and gained altitude. I waved the wings as we passed by the parking lot on climb out. Since it was still early (around 10 am) the air was relatively smooth as I leveled at 2,500 feet. I flew us to the end of Caesar Creek Lake and then followed it down. Emily seemed to like watching the boats down below us and thought it was really neat to see the dam at the end of the lake from the air.

The boaters were already out on the lake

But the beach was still pretty much empty

Nearing the dam at the end of the lake

Their house is conveniently only a few miles away from Stewart so I headed that direction while passing over downtown Waynesville. As we got close I could see that someone (turns out it was her mom and brother) was standing out in the yard. I made one circle around the house as she took some photos - Emily took all the photos included in this post - and then descended to 2,000 feet while coming around a second time. I rocked the wings back and forth as we passed by to say hello. She couldn't believe how different their neighborhood looked from above and obviously enjoyed taking some photos.

Passing by downtown Waynesville

Their neighborhood from about 1,000 feet up

The air was a little bumpier down at 2,000 feet but she said it wasn't bothering her at all. Nonetheless, I wanted to keep this first flight short so I turned back towards the airport. We had briefly talked about how planes fly around the airport before landing and I made a couple more comments as we entered the traffic pattern. Touchdown was intentionally long to shorten the taxi and very smooth on the still-wet grass. Most importantly, I asked if she wanted to go up again and she said "definitely, yes!" without any hesitation and with a big grin on her face.

Base leg on approach to Stewart

Although it wasn't necessarily an average Young Eagle flight (with me flying kids I've never met before) it was a great experience for all. She got to go up in a GA airplane for the first time and I had a blast showing her a little bit about flying. Hopefully I do get a chance to fly with her again; we might go up with her dad and Gina on a $100 burger run in the 172 at some point. Regardless, everything cooperated this morning and we both enjoyed our short time in the 150. I really do see why so many people say the pilots get even more out of this than the kids do!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 0.6 hours
Total Time: 150.9 hours


  1. Good on ya' Steve! Nothing beats the smile on a youngsters face when they get in the air. Sort of like that post solo walk to the flight school for us.

  2. From the description, it was a wonderful flight. Thanks for taking time to share the joy of flying with Emily.

    The best reward a pilot can get is from a Young Eagle smiling ear to ear and anserwing "Yes!" when asked if they'd do it again!

    Steve Buss
    Director, EAA Young Eagles

  3. Thanks, guys!

    Steve - just curious, how'd you come across this post?

  4. Sounds like a wonderful flight. Glad you are giving back to the community. It's so important to get young people involved and interested in general aviation. The joy of taking a first timer flying is an awesome feeling!