‘Young Eagles Day’ at Boyle airport gives kids a chance to experience flight

Published 6:52 pm Monday, July 15, 2019

More than 118 kids experienced what it was like to fly over Boyle County at 1,200 feet Saturday during the Danville-Boyle County Airport’s Young Eagles Day. The free event was sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association and is held nationwide, usually on the second Saturday of May. Saturday’s Young Eagles Day had been rescheduled because May’s event was cancelled due to bad weather. 

Rob Caldwell checks his list before taking off with a couple of young passengers on Saturday. Caldwell said the local airport’s fuel provider, Titan Aviation, donated 200 gallons of fuel so that pilots could take as many kids on free flights as possible. (Photo by Robin Hart)

Kids ages 8 to 17 were given free airplane rides as a way to “introduce the next generations along to aviation,” said Bill Hammond, member of the DBCA Board’s Activities committee. “The purpose is just to get young people made aware that aviation is something they might want to do.”

Hammond said the aerospace industry is the “second largest export product in Kentucky. … Right here in Danville, Megitt does wheels and brakes for the airlines. UPS is in Louisville, it’s their main hub. Amazon Prime is building their hub in northern Kentucky for their air deliveries.”

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On Saturday, three local pilots and five pilots from other areas took off and landed their planes at Stuart Powell Field with kids as their special passengers. Rides lasted about 10 to 15 minutes.

Kids from Boyle, Lincoln and Garrard counties and a few from Mount Sterling, Nicholasville and Lexington gathered inside a hanger throughout the day and watched at planes flew in and out of the airport. The Stuart Powell Civil Air Patrol Squadron Ky 122 handed out information about their organization and gave away balsa wood planes for children to wind the propellers and launch them into the air.

Parents also had the option to take a plane ride for $30 each. Sisters Elizabeth Bast and Rebecca Preston, of Garrard County said they were going to fly while their children rode with the Young Eagles program. “It is on my bucket list,” Bast said.

Rob Caldwell, who was giving rides in his 4-seat Beechcraft Bonanza on Saturday, said the local airport’s fuel supplier, Titan Aviation, donated 200 gallons of fuel to the pilots this year for the Young Eagles Day. They saw how successful last year’s event was, with 114 children, Caldwell said, so they donated twice as much this year. “They understand this event,” he said.

After stepping off the plane and heading back into the hanger, the kids were given vouchers for free, private pilot ground courses. Once they’re old enough and pass the written exam, they will also receive another voucher that pays for their first hour of flight instruction, Hammond said. “It’s a neat program.”

Lee Williams, of Nicholasville, was one of 118 kids who got a free, 15-minute plane ride around Boyle County Saturday. (Photo by Robin Hart)

“Sporty’s Pilot Shop in Cincinnati provides a great deal of support for the program,” Hammond said.

Easton Bowling, 11, of Danville said Saturday’s ride was his first time in a plane. “When you get in it feels like a car at first. Then you put on headphones. It was really fun being in the air and looking around!”

Lily Hernandez, 8, of Mt. Sterling said she saw pools, cars, neighborhoods and trees.”

Jacob Vanover, 12, of Garrard County was wearing a “NASA” T-shirt and was excited to ride in a plane. This was his second year to attend Young Eagles Day and said he was thinking about joining the local CAP because he loves flying and aviation.

Lee Williams, 6, of Nicholasville, climbed into Caldwell’s plane, bucked into the back seat and put on a large set of earphones. Smiling during the entire ride, Lee peered out the window at the farmland and neighborhoods below. He said he wasn’t scared, but still preferred to stay seated and not stand up to get a better view.

Back on the round, Lee’s smile never faded. “That was fun!” he announced. And his favorite part of the ride was “how bumpy it was.”