Kids get high-flying memories at College Place flight event

Pilots in the Young Eagles program treated 66 local youths to flights at Martin Field.

Jackie Brick takes the copilot seat while her mother, Susan, takes a photo of her daughter’s participation at Young Eagles Flight day Saturday at Martin Field.

Jackie Brick takes the copilot seat while her mother, Susan, takes a photo of her daughter’s participation at Young Eagles Flight day Saturday at Martin Field. Photo by Alfred Diaz.

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COLLEGE PLACE — It wasn’t easy letting go, but Susan Brick recognized that it was too good an opportunity for her daughter.

“Jackie wasn’t afraid. It was me. And I didn’t want to deny her the opportunity because of my fears,” Brick said as she watched a Cessna airplane taxi down the runway at Martin Field with Jackie, 11, inside.

The day before, Brick and a friend, Laura Reiter, heard about the Young Eagles Flight program, where local youths get the chance to fly for free in a small aircraft.

“The girls were super excited. And between their enthusiasm and speaking with the owner about it, there was no looking back,” Reiter said, as she also stood and watched her 11-year-old daughter, Lili, take off in the same Cessna.

Every year, the Young Eagles Flight program offers free flights to youths 8-17 with the goal of encouraging them to learn to fly and possibly pursue careers in aviation.

The program was started in 1992 by the Experiment Aircraft Association. Since then, more than 1.6 million Young Eagles have been given free flights, including 9-year-old Diego Garcia.

“It’s a pretty super opportunity for them. And it is free of charge,” Diego’s father, Ruben, said as he watched Saturday as his son took off in a Van’s RV-4 experimental aircraft.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 66 youths were given 20-minutes rides by nine volunteer pilots, who also paid for the fuel costs, said Phil Kress, association president.

“The cost is quite amazing. Most of these airplanes cost hundreds of dollars an hour to run. And it is all on the pilot’s dime,” Kress added.

To learn more about Young Eagles, go online to youngeagles.org.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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