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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 4 July 30, 2008     

EAA Young Eagles award winners
By Barbara A. Schmitz

Ground Support Volunteers Kathy, Tom, Dave and Cindy Thompson

They come 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.

Itís what drives them and the EAA Young Eagles programís success.

The 2008 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, Illinois
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.

The 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.

For their 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.

Kathy 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 usÖ"

When the Young Eagles program began in 1992, Tom was one of the first to sign up. The family started helping out a few years later.

As part 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."

Her father is still active in the program, although he doesnít fly Young Eagles anymore.

"Dad 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."

While 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 getting recognized."

Bev and Jim Cone

Jim and Bev Cone, Humanitarian Award, EAA Chapter 430, Sequin, Washington
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.

For four 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.

Chapter 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 smiles."

The 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."

For coordinating the cooperative partnership, the Cones will receive the Young Eagles Humanitarian Award, which is presented for efforts to reach special needs Young Eagles.

"Iím 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

Doug Raine, Field Representative Award, Bowmanville, Ontario
Somebody needs to get kids interested in aviation, and Doug Raine has decided to be that somebody.

He has 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.

"Iíve 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."

As a 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.

"Then I put them all together, and everyone goes flying," said Raine, who is receiving the Field Representative Award.

But itís 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.

While 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

Tony Yacono, Chapter Coordinator Award, EAA Chapter 724, Merritt Island, Florida
Tony Yacono said he simply is enjoying what heís doing.

But others donít see it that way, and thatís why he is receiving the Chapter Coordinator Award.

Yacono 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.

Yacono 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.

"My 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.

Still he 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."

Yacono 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

Steve Sorge, Horizon Award, EAA Chapter 1177 Palmyra, Wisconsin
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 learning online.

Sorge is receiving the Horizon Award, which recognizes efforts to go beyond the basic Young Eagles flights.

"We 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."

For 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.

But 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.

"The curriculum and computer-based graphics are outstanding," Sorge said. "But it canít talk to practical experience."

Sorge 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 AeroScholars class.

"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."

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