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Young flying enthusiasts introduced to small craft aviation at EAA rally in Hillaton

HILLATON, NS - Having an opportunity to experience the thrill of aviation in a small aircraft was something they won’t soon forget.

24 young people ranging in age from eight to 17 got to go flying for 15 to 20 minutes for free as Chapter 1051 of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) hosted a Young Eagles rally at the Kings Aerodrome on Saxon Street in Hillaton on June 9.

11-year-old Ben West got to go flying in a Cessna 172 piloted by Robert Rowe. He said that it was a really great experience. He said you could feel the force of the wind, the turns and the vibrations coming from the motor in the small aircraft. West said he had never flown in a small airplane like the Cessna before.

“It was super cool, I’ve never felt anything like it,” West said. “It was a little bit scary at first but once I’d been in the air for a little bit it was just really, really fun and super amazing. We even flew over my house.”

EAA Chapter 1051 president Gerard Killam said the rally was the first they’ve held in several years. He said the chapter was relatively inactive for a few years, especially around the time that the Kings County municipal airport in Waterville was being closed.

“Now we have this really nice facility here and our chapter is based here now,” Killam said.

He said the idea behind the rally is to introduce children to light airplanes and aviation in general, hopefully inspiring them in the process. Killam said people, especially kids, who have never experienced flying in a small airplane often get up in the air and realize that “this is one of most exciting things that you can do.” Some go on to have a career in aviation of some sort, in the military, as a flying instructor or commercial pilot.

Killam said that when he was 10 or 11 years old, there was a fellow flying a small, two-seat airplane out of a small hay field not far from his home in Woodville. The man charged $3 a person to go flying for 10 or 15 minutes.

“I talked my mother and father into coughing up the three bucks, which was a lot of dollars in those days,” Killam said, pointing out that his parents also gave his sister and brother $3 each so they could go flying too.

Killam described the experience as “amazing” and “magical.” He said that “once I got up in the air, within 10 minutes I knew that I wanted to learn to fly and that was it.”

He said children had to pre-register for the rally and all 24 spots filled up. Killam said they might be able to take more at future events, depending on the availability of pilots and aircraft. They had four small airplanes and a helicopter lined up for the June 9 event. Overall, since the EAA’s Young Eagles initiative began approximately 20 years ago, Killam said almost two million young people have gone flying.

Killam said the Young Eagles is a fun initiative for club members to be involved in. Children who participate can get a log book to record their flights and a one-year membership in the Young Eagles.

He said that, as far as he knows, EAA Chapter 1051 is the only experimental aircraft association east of Quebec.

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