MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Little Ethan Hoover won’t drive a car for another seven years. He won’t graduate high school for another nine! Yet the nine year old took a step this weekend that could potentially set him up for a future career in aviation.
Aaron Wypysznski is the coordinator for the local chapter of the Young Eagles Flights. This weekend, they offered free flights for kids ages 8-17.
Saturday’s free Young Eagles Flight for Ethan was his first ever trip above the clouds, but likely won’t be his last. Aaron says that’s the whole idea behind the program. “This age is where kids really figure out what they want to do in life and to expose kids to something that they’re not usually able to be exposed to, even if they don’t become a pilot, they can become an engineer or just have a passion about aviation and share that,” he says.
EAA, the organization behind the rides, takes it a step further. “The kids get a free membership to EAA which gives their monthly magazine and then in addition they get a lot of great pilot benefits,” says Wypyszynski.
That includes free ground school, a free first flight lesson, and reimbursing students who pass the written FAA exam. “And then you’re eligible for scholarships, so they’ve got about 20 scholarships a year, anywhere between 15 hundred to 7 thousand dollars to cover your cost to go out and learn how to fly,” he says.
Aaron is a perfect example of why the program works; he was a Young Eagle himself. “My favorite part is seeing the excitement of the kids. I remember how exciting it was for me the first time I got to go up and fly,” says Wypyszynski.
In case you couldn’t tell by Ethan’s face, he’s anxious to get right back in the cockpit.
Thee Young Eagles offer free flights every third Saturday of the month, out at the Moontown Airport.