Created: 07/13/2014 6:20 PM KAALtv.com
By: Meghan Reistad
(ABC 6 News) -- Once a year, kids in the community have the chance to see Austin from a new perspective, from off the ground. The Young Eagles Program introduces kids to aviation by offering free flights. Today, the Experimental Aircraft Association hosted the event at the Austin Municipal Airport.
“You got to see Austin, fields, roads. You go to see everything. It’s really cool,” said Xavyre Heil.
Kids usually see the world from just feet off the ground, but they got a different view today.
“It was really scary, at first, but when I went up there it was like you’re riding a rollercoaster, only you’re in the air,” said Autumn Speer.
Volunteer pilots donate their time, planes and fuel for the program to give kids a unique opportunity.
“We love the heck out of it we have a blast,” said Pilot Ed Wells. “It’s awesome. We have a great time. All of us love to fly, anyway, and seeing the smiles on their faces when they’re done it’s really cool.”
For one pilot, it was not long ago that he was a participant in the Young Eagles Program.
“I had a blast, loved it and thought, ‘why not try and do this myself?’ I came out and trained and, couple years, here I am,” said Justin Hansen.
Five years ago, Hansen had a taste of flying through the program. Today, he sits in the pilot seat.
“From being a passenger, not knowing anything about airplane, to flying it and trusting other kids to go with me in less than five years,” said Hansen.
Hansen is headed to college this fall to study aviation.
“Passion for now, it’ll soon be a career,” Hansen said.
“If we can plant a seed in more young kids, like Justin, and create more pilots it’s good for everybody. It’s good for aviation, it’s good for everything, so that’s why we do it to try to get kids to know they can be a pilot if they want to.”
Since the Experimental Aircraft Association started offering flights, more than 1,000 kids have experienced flying in a single-engine plane.