Support Volunteers Kathy, Tom, Dave and Cindy Thompson
from throughout the United States and Canada and have varied
backgrounds. But they all agree on one thingóa need to get more youth
interested in aviation.
what drives them and the EAA Young Eagles programís success.
Young Eagles awards will be presented at a special ceremony at the EAA
AirVenture Museumís Eagle Hangar tonight. This yearís winners
include the following:
Thompson family, Ground
Support Volunteer Award, EAA Chapter 101, Elmhurst,
There is a saying that the family that plays together, stays together.
But in the Thompson familyís case, that saying should be: The family
that volunteers together, stays together.
Thompson family is a key part of Chapter 101ís successful Young Eagles
program. All members of the family have taken leadership roles in their
chapter and also volunteer at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
years of work, Carson (Tom) Thompson; his daughter, Kathy Thompson; and
his son and daughter-in-law, Dave and Cindy Thompson; will receive the
Ground Support Volunteer Award.
said her father got involved with EAA about 47 years ago, joining
Chapter 101 just two or three months after it was formed. "Because
he joined when we were all young, weíve been involved in the chapter
all our lives," she said. "Itís like an extended family to
Young Eagles program began in 1992, Tom was one of the first to sign up.
The family started helping out a few years later.
of the ground crew, the Thompsons work as ramp escorts, oversee
paperwork, and much more. "But Dave is affectionately called the
Beast Master," Kathy said. "Thatís because heís great at
keeping the kids in line and under control."
father is still active in the program, although he doesnít fly Young
is out there every month with us, and he goes to every meeting and every
event. At 82, heís still a great example of that spirit of EAA. Plus,
heís a walking encyclopedia of aviation."
Kathy and Dave are excited to get the award, they all are particularly
thrilled for their father. "Heís put in so much time and effort
on behalf of EAA," Kathy said. "Weíre tickled pink heís
and Jim Cone
Jim and Bev Cone,
Humanitarian Award, EAA Chapter 430, Sequin,
Jim and Bev Cone know the excitement of watching children take their
first flight in a general aviation aircraft through the Young Eagles
program. But multiply that excitement tenfold when youíre taking
children from Belarus who have been exposed to long-term radiation after
the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
years, the Cones have been working with Global Family Alliance to give
free Young Eagles flights through EAA Chapter 430 while the Russian
youth are visiting the United States. About 120 youth have received
their Young Eagles flight since the cooperative partnership began.
430 organizes a separate rally for the Russian children, many of whom
canít speak English, Jim said. Interpreters explain to the children
how the rides work, and most of the pilots use sign language to
communicate with their passengers. "The kids get a big charge out
of working the controls," Jim said. "Some are a little
apprehensive, but when they come back down, there are always huge
children receive a bag of gifts, including toy airplanes that they can
play with as they await their flight. "It gives the kids who are
staying with separate families in the area a chance to play together and
share their experiences with the ride," Jim said. "Itís just
a really, really fun time."
coordinating the cooperative partnership, the Cones will receive the
Young Eagles Humanitarian Award, which is presented for efforts to reach
special needs Young Eagles.
really surprised and humbled," Jim said. "So many people are
involved in the program. By accepting it, we are accepting it on behalf
of all the people we work with. We couldnít do this alone."
Doug Raine, Field
Representative Award, Bowmanville, Ontario
Somebody needs to get kids interested in aviation, and Doug Raine has
decided to be that somebody.
been a key figure in Canada for the Young Eagles program since it began
and has personally flown more than 500 youngsters. A frequent visitor to
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Raine also travels to work with or help other
groups carry on their Young Eagles activities.
always believed in the program," Raine said, noting that he was
giving airplane rides to children before the program started in 1992.
"Somebody needs to get kids interested in doing something else
besides sitting in front of the TV or playing a video game. I enjoy
doing it, the kids enjoy going for a ride, so we both win."
field representative for the program, Raine said he organizes pilots and
ground volunteers and advertises to youth by notifying Boy Scouts and
Girl Scouts groups, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the schools.
I put them all together, and everyone goes flying," said Raine, who
is receiving the Field Representative Award.
not quite that simple. On typical flight rallies, he needs to find at
least 30 volunteers and 12 aircraft. Theyíve taken as many as 351
youth up in one day. For each flight rally, Jim Cox, of Aviation
Supplies, sponsors a lunch for the volunteers.
they donít keep track to see if any of the youth do go on in aviation
in some form, Raine said he has heard of some success stories. "We
know of some kids who have joined Air Cadets and one who is working on
getting his private license."
Tony Yacono, Chapter
Coordinator Award, EAA Chapter 724, Merritt
Tony Yacono said he simply is enjoying what heís doing.
others donít see it that way, and thatís why he is receiving the
Chapter Coordinator Award.
has been a Young Eagles coordinator for 12 years, and he personally has
flown more than 500 youth. In fact, under his leadership, EAA Chapter
724 has flown 3,704 Young Eagles.
said he became involved in the program because someone cared enough to
give him his first airplane ride at 12. Now 80, he has accumulated about
6,000 hoursí flight time.
opinion is that I need to give something back to the youngsters; thatís
why I am doing this." Yet "the biggest kid in the airplane is
the one behind the controls," he said.
can tell countless stories of the real kids who became excited by their
flights, like a family of three girls, who the mother said wouldnít
say a word in the sky. "They wouldnít stop talking because they
were so excited," he said. "I had to ask them not to say
anything when I was getting ready to land."
said it takes a lot of work to put on a Young Eagles rally. "A lot
of people run their tail off, and everyone deserves a great deal of
credit. While I am appreciative of the award, I am going to accept it
for all the people who help."
Steve Sorge, Horizon
Chapter 1177 Palmyra,
Steve Sorge and EAA Chapter 1177 know that children learn better when
they can see, feel, and experience things. So he became a facilitator
for the AeroScholars course and met with teenagers in two school
districts to further explain and demonstrate the concepts they were
receiving the Horizon Award, which recognizes efforts to go beyond the
basic Young Eagles flights.
basically married the Young Eagles events with AeroScholars," Sorge
said. "We would have AeroScholars students come out and have a very
focused Young Eagles event with them. We would have five students and
five pilots who would run through some of the more difficult sections of
the curriculum, and then do a Young Eagles ride and demonstrate how the
elevator, rudder, or flaps work, or what an uncoordinated turn is."
students in the advanced AeroScholars course, which focuses on preparing
students to take the FAA written test, Sorge and his volunteer pilots do
a mock cross-country with the students so they can practice the skills
they would need on such a trip.
beyond that, Sorge meets with students in the classroom to expand on
concepts taught in the online course, while other chapter members come
in occasionally to talk about specific areas.
curriculum and computer-based graphics are outstanding," Sorge
said. "But it canít talk to practical experience."
said they started the program with the Palmyra-Eagle High School, and in
spring 2008 expanded it to Franklin High School where they worked with
10 students, two of whom are now taking flying lessons on their own. He
will again serve as facilitator for Franklin students in the fall when
they begin the advanced AeroScholars class, as well as another basic
"We see all the
statistics about a declining pilot population and we need toÖturn that
around. Before AeroScholars came out, there wasnít an organized
curriculum or structure to reach out to the age group that in the near
future is going to be the next generation of pilots and owners."