24th annual fly-in encourages young people to consider Aviation

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- For its 24th year, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) held their annual grass field fly-in.

Hundreds showed up to see around 200 aircraft on Saturday. For one, it was a very special day.

"This is all I'd ever want for my birthday," said Drew Freeman, a teenage pilot.

Freeman turned 18 years old Saturday and has been flying for about three years.

"It's so unique. It's peaceful yet it's fun. It's exhilarating. There needs to be more people in aviation," Freeman explained.

He's not the only one who thinks this.

"We're running out of pilots. We're very close to there being a critical shortage," said Charles Cozelos, president of the local EAA chapter.

He said more young people should consider aviation.

"With the numbers down that means there's more opportunities for young people to get involved, either military or civilian," explained Cozelos.

The EAA has a Young Eagles program that has been giving young people their first free airplane ride for more than 25 years.

"The kid is a different kid when they get back on the ground. They get in the airplane, they're a little scared, they don't know what's going on. When they get down, you can't wipe the smile off their face," said Bryan Tauchen, the Young Eagles coordinator.

Pilots came from across the southeast to Moontown Airport for a day of flying, continuing education and community.

If you missed Saturday's big annual fly-in, you didn't miss your chance to see the aircraft. The local EAA Chapter 190 has a fly-in on the third Saturday of every month, complete with breakfast at the Moontown Airport.