“We want to make it a community-type get together to enjoy the facilities available at the airport,” EAA Chapter 268 member Rafael Garcia said, adding the event is made possible through a joint effort with the local EAA chapter and Phoenix Air’s local management. “Some of the activities we have planned are what we call the Young Eagles flights, where we take children in the range of [ages] 8 to 18 for a free, introductory flight. We have several pilots who donate their airplane, their fuel and their time to take the kids out and introduce them to what flying is about.
“Very often we get many children where this is a rare opportunity for them to get out on a small, general aviation airplane and go out and fly. Many children are interested in flying, but haven’t been able to do so, so this gives them the opportunity ... and gives us the opportunity to make new pilots for the future, hopefully.”
The event also feature a hotdog and hamburger lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with donations requested as well as a .10 cent per gallon fuel discount for pilots who fly in for the event.
Garcia explained the role the EAA plays in the lives of aviation enthusiasts.
“The EAA is a national organization with a very large number of participants throughout the country and worldwide,” said Garcia. “It’s made up of people who, in one form or another, love or have an attraction to flying and airplanes. We are builders of airplanes, many of our members build their own airplanes; many members like myself fly commercial airplanes built by well-known companies like Cessna and Piper, but many of our members build their airplanes from kits or from scratch.”
According to www.eaa.org, “EAA was founded in 1953 by a group of individuals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were interested in building their own airplanes. Through the decades, the organization expanded its mission to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters, and contemporary manufactured aircraft.”
Garcia said, “A lot of people have the misconception that you have to be rich and all sorts of things to be able to participate in something like aviation, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We have a lot of people who are extremely limited in income and they still participate, so we like to get the word out [about aviation].”
Jack Hardin of Phoenix Air also said the upcoming event is a good opportunity for the public to learn more about the local airport.
“[Phoenix Air] provides a point for people who are interested in aviation that is close by ... and north of Atlanta, so there’s a lot less traffic around here and it’s a lot more desireable for the general aviation,” Hardin said.