Young Eagles is a program created by the US Experimental Aircraft Association designed to give children between the ages of 8 to 17 an opportunity to experience flight in a general aviation airplane while educating them about aviation. The program is offered free of charge with costs covered by the volunteers. It was launched in 1992 and, by 2016, has flown more than 2 million children in 90 countries. The program's presenting sponsors are Phillips 66 and Sporty's Pilot Shop.
In 1991, a survey of long-time EAA members was conducted to help determine the organization's future priorities. Nearly 92 percent said EAA's primary objective should be to involve more young people in aviation. The survey also showed that a flight experience inspired respondents toward aviation. On May 13, 1992, following several months of coordination by EAA's then-President Tom Poberezny and members of the EAA Board of Directors, management, staff and volunteers, the Young Eagles Program was unveiled at a Washington, D.C. news conference.
The mission of the EAA Young Eagles Program is to provide a meaningful flight experience – free of charge – in a general aviation aircraft for young people (primarily between the ages of 8 and 17). Flights are provided by EAA members worldwide.
The initial goal of the program was to fly one million children prior to the 100th anniversary of flight celebration (Dec. 17, 2003). That goal was achieved on November 13, 2003. An ongoing annual goal of introducing 100,000 young people to the Young Eagles experience has been established.
In March 2011 EAA reported the results of a study on the program that showed that program participants are 5.4 times more likely to become a pilot than those who never participated and that 9% of those new pilots are female, an increase of 50% compared to the general population of pilots, which is 6% female. The study also indicated that the older a child is when taking their flight that it is the more likely that child will become a pilot, with two out of every 100 participants who are 17 years old continuing to complete a pilot certificate. The program is administered by the Young Eagles Office at EAA headquarters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
At AirVenture Oshkosh 2011, EAA unveiled a new program called "International Young Eagles Day," a day set aside to encourage all EAA members and Chapters to participate that is held on the second Saturday of June annually.
At AirVenture Oshkosh 2012, EAA unveiled a new program called "Eagle Flights," which will offer rides for adults.
International Young Eagles
In Canada the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association participated in the Young Eagles program between 1992 and 2008. COPA members have flown more than 81,000 Young Eagles. COPA participation was ended on May 31, 2008 due to insurance concerns.
More than 43,000 pilots have participated in the program, donating their time and paying the full cost of providing the flights for the children in their own or rented aircraft. While some pilots have only flown a few Young Eagles there are many pilots who have flown more than three thousand children.
At the program's inception EAA decided to continuously recruit a well-known person and pilot to act as Chairman and raise the profile of the program. The program's founding chairman was Academy Award-winning film actor Cliff Robertson, who served in that capacity from 1992 to 1994. Robertson was succeeded in 1994 by retired USAF General and test pilot Chuck Yeager, the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound. Yeager stepped down as chairman in 2004 and, in March 2004, franchise film actor Harrison Ford became Chairman of the Young Eagles program. Ford has flown more than 300 Young Eagles, including the 2-millionth Young Eagle, in several types of aircraft, and finished his five-year term in 2009. In September 2009, Captain Chesley Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, who became famous in the US Airways Flight 1549 Hudson River ditching on 15 January 2009, were named as the program's new co-chairmen.
In July 2013, aerobatic world champion pilot Sean D. Tucker replaced Sullenberger and Skiles as chairman. In July 2018, NFL tight end Jimmy Graham joined Tucker as the organization's co-chairman.
Scholarships and sponsors
Rolls Royce scholarship
The Next Step
In May 2009, EAA joined with Sporty's Pilot Shop of Batavia, Ohio, to provide the Next Step to the Young Eagles Flight experience. Sporty's has made their on line Complete Flight Training Course available to any interested Young Eagle following their flight. Sporty's also provides pilot logbooks to allow Young Eagles to record their flight and any subsequent aviation experiences.
Gathering of Eagles
The Gathering of Eagles is an annual fundraiser auction event to support the Young Eagles program. The organization hosts the event each year in the EAA AirVenture Museum during its EAA AirVenture Airshow. Among items auctioned were a SR-71 themed "Blackbird" Ford Mustang donated by Ford Motor Company, Jack Roush, and EAA member Carroll Shelby.
- 2006: Shelby GT350H Ford Mustang
- 2007: Unknown
- 2008: F-22 Raptor Ford Mustang "AV8R"
- 2009: P-51 "Dearborn Doll" Ford Mustang "AV-X10"
- 2010: SR-71 "Blackbird" Ford Mustang
- 2011: United States Navy Blue Angels Ford Mustang
- 2012: Tuskegee Airmen "Red Tails" Ford Mustang
- 2013: United States Air Force Thunderbirds Ford Mustang
- 2014: F-35 Lightning II Ford Mustang
- 2015: Apollo Ford Mustang
- 2016: Bob Hoover P-51 "Old Yeller" GT350 Mustang
- 2017: 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor F-22 Raptor
- 2018: 2018 Ford Eagle Squadron Mustang GT
- 2019: 2019 Ford "Old Crow" Mustang GT
- "Harrison Ford Flies 2 Millionth Young Eagle". Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- Buss, Steve (February 2010). "Young Eagles Fact Sheet". Retrieved 2010-02-23.
- Grady, Mary (March 2011). "Young Eagles Works, Says EAA". AvWeb. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
- Canadian Owners & Pilots Association (May 2008). "COPA e-NewsFlash" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-07-20.[dead link]
- Canadian Owners & Pilots Association (July 2008). "COPA to launch kids aviation program". Archived from the original on November 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-30.
- Grady, Mary (September 2009). "Sullenberger And Skiles To Co-Chair Young Eagles". Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- Bertorelli, Paul (2013-08-02). "Sean Tucker Named New Young Eagles Chairman - AVweb flash Article". Avweb.com. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
- "Jimmy Graham Announced as Young Eagles Co-Chairman". EAA.org. July 2018. Retrieved 2019-08-25.
- Sport Aviation. September 2010. Missing or empty
- EAA (April 2009). "Sporty's Supports Young Eagles". Retrieved 2010-02-15.
- "Eagle Hangar". Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- "Carroll Shelby Passes Away". Archived from the original on 22 May 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
- "Ford Previews Custom 'Red Tails' Mustang For EAA AirVenture 2012". Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- "Ford Shelby GT-H Auctioned for $250,000".
- "Ford's AV8R Mustang nets $500k for charity".
- "Ford shows off AV-X10 'Dearborn Doll' Mustang".
- "One-off SR-71 Mustang sells for $375,000 at EAA AirVenture".
- "Blue Angels Mustang raises $400,000 for charity".
- "Ford unveils Red Tails Edition Mustang GT with video".
- "US Air Force Thunderbirds Mustang fetches $400K at auction".
- "2015 Ford Mustang F-35 Lightning II Edition".
- "Ford Apollo edition Mustang nets $230K for charity".
- "Ford Old Yeller Mustang inspired by P-51D revealed".
- "One-of-a-Kind Ford 'F-22 Raptor' F-150 Auctioned to Support EAA Youth Education".
- "One-of-a-Kind 'RAF Eagle Squadron' Ford Mustang GT on Auction Block at AirVenture 2018".
- "One-of-a-Kind 'Old Crow' Ford Mustang GT to be Auctioned for EAA Aviation Program".
- Young Eagles Fact Sheet - accessed 19 August 2006
- COPA Young Eagles website - accessed 19 August 2006