At some point when I was doing research for our Aviation Unit, I came across some information about the Young Eagles Program. Sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, it's a program that will provide a free flight for any child between 8 and 17. After making a few phone calls, I found the contact person for our local chapter of the EAA, and we arranged to meet him and other members of the EAA at an IMAX movie about airplanes that was showing nearby.
He gave us some forms to fill out for the Young Eagles flight, and then it was just a matter of finding a time! It seemed like SUCH a cool thing to do, and such good fortune that it would be free, that I almost couldn't believe it, and I didn't say anything to the children for fear that it wouldn't actually work out. Michael (my contact guy) and I exchanged a million phone calls over several weeks, trying to work things out, and finally, at the very end of our unit, he called with an available pilot and an available day. We were THRILLED.
Only Abe and Seb were old enough to go on the flight (Malachi, who just missed by a couple months, was SO disappointed, but our EAA friend said kids younger than 8 usually can't even see out the windows of the plane, so it just isn't as fun! We are going to set up another flight for Malachi as soon as he is old enough. Daisy is dying to do it, too.) but we all went along to the airport, the South Valley Municipal, so we could watch.
The boys got to help open up the hangar and do the pre-flight check, and the plane is so small and light, the pilot just pulled it out all by himself! It's a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The pilot said it's the best and easiest plane to fly.
I really appreciated how the pilot was wearing a shirt that matched his plane.
Also, note Goldie's blurry head in the lower right. She ran around in circles, singing, for literally the entire time the boys were on their flight. Our friend from the EAA, who was there with us, asked me about 5 times what she had had for breakfast. (Answer: nothing yet.)
It didn't take long to get ready, and then the boys got strapped in, put on their headsets, and off they went down the taxiway! We sat by the hangar and watched for them.
Pretty soon we saw the Cessna coming down the runway, and then lifting off! The boys waved at us as they flew up.
Soon, they were out of sight, headed over toward the Bingham Copper Mine. They got to fly over and see the huge dump trucks looking like little tiny ants crawling around. The boys said flying in such a small plane was very exciting—you could feel all the banks and turns a lot more, and their stomachs did a lot more dropping! They said it was very exciting. And the pilot even let Abraham fly the plane! He got to take the control stick and try out some turns. Seb said it made him nervous, but of course the pilot still had everything under control, and Abraham loved it!
After about a half hour, they were back, talking a mile a minute about how much fun they had had, and how amazing it was to fly above the world in their own little cocoon of a plane. They were SO happy. It was the very best end we ever could have imagined for our Airplane Unit! We felt so lucky!