Published by Steve Wathen - 19 December 2013
Who first introduced you to aviation? Who was the first person to tell you, “You can learn to fly?” Someone, or some experience, planted the seed in you…growing into a passion for aviation.
Seventeen year old Bridget Usher believes she can learn to fly because the YAA Program Partner in Eau Claire, Wisconsin not only planted the seed, but watered it. Usher attended a YAA program and took a free EAA Young Eagles plane ride, obtaining a free EAA student membership. But she didn’t stop there. The high school junior completed Part 1 of the Complete Flight Training Course offered for free by Sporty’s…leading to a free flight lesson at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport.
The journey started when her younger brother earned his Boy Scout Aviation Merit Badge at a YAA program. Since the program is open to any youth age 12-18, Bridget decided to check it out herself. “It was kind of an eye opener to the different opportunities in aviation,” she recalls. “It provides you with some general background information on flying and what it takes to be a pilot.”
Because of her enthusiasm, effort and a 500 word essay submitted to the Eau Claire Partner Program, Usher received the group’s first annual Aim High Scholarship, a $500 award for college tuition. In her essay, Usher says the value of the experience goes beyond the scholarship money. “Even when you’re not in the air, flying gives you a feeling of both pride and accomplishment,” adding, “I’m looking forward to getting my license someday!”
In 28 locations in 17 states, YAA is planting seeds, introducing young people like Bridget to the exciting world of aviation. Since 1997, more than 9,000 youth and nearly 3,000 adults who accompanied them have been invited to look to the sky to find a life-long hobby or career.
As the end of the year approaches, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help more young people like Bridget step inside the airport fence for a hands-on and fun mini-ground school. We are working with nearly a dozen groups in various parts of the country that would like to start a YAA program. Two are ready to go as soon as we can raise the money needed to supply them with the curriculum and other materials.
It costs $1,500 to launch a new Partner Program. Could you donate $3,000 so both can start planning their first event, or $1,500 to get one up and running? It will take just two gifts of $750 to start a new program, or four gifts of $375. A donation of $25, $50 or $100 will put us closer to our goal of starting six new programs in 2014. Please join me and hundreds of volunteers across the country to introduce more kids to the exciting world of aviation by making a secure on-line donation today!