October 14, 2001

flights of the Young Eagles

We're back home again, slightly sore around the shoulders, but otherwise rested
and refreshed. This is a good thing, as we have one more weekend, studded with
parties, then a three week period where we're traveling every weekend, probably
driving about 3500 miles total. Wow. Good thing we like each

This weekend up at the airpark, they were giving plane rides
to kids, as part of the Young Eagles program. Te idea is to lure more people into
flying, recreationally or professionally, while they're at an impressionable age.
This was scheduled to be held on September 14, but they couldn't do it then,
partly as a matter of sensitivity, but also because of the onerous restrictions
placed on General Aviation after Sept. 11. At that point, all aircraft were
grounded. We still can't fly from our usual airport, except with an instrument
clearance or with an instructor along, because it's too close to the major Phoenix
airport. They are finally going to lift that restriction near most (not all) major
airports in the next couple of days. Note that it's never legal to fly over a
major airport, or very close to one, without a special clearance, so it's not like
pilots would just run amok without these extra rules.

The thing that
bothers me most about the Young Eagles program is, where were all these people
when I was young? I had my sweet sixteen at an airport restaurant themed after a
WWI air squadron. I majored in mechanical engineering because I wanted to work in
aerospace. But I didn't get to fly even commercially until the week I turned 21,
and I didn't get to fly in a lightplane until I was about 27.

I could
have been a Young Eagle this weekend, though -- when we walked over to the lodge
(to use the bathroom there, actually), one of the old guys asked if we were there
for the plane rides. I know we look young to them, but still, at 34 I figure I
probably do look a little old for a kids' program. It was probably a combination
of androgynous clothes, the young-boy haircut, and the sunglasses covering lines
around the eyes. Or Rudder's boyish slimness (the muscles don't show under a loose
T-shirt). Or possibly that particular old man's eyesight has degraded to the point
where he really shouldn't be flying anymore.

There was a href="http://madaket.netwizards.net/vtail/">Beech Bonanza flying around, doing
landings too -- if they had been giving rides in that, I'd have been happy to
pretend I was a 17-year-old boy! I'm not proud.

Posted by dichroic at October 14, 2001 04:59 PM
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