Young Eagles Day

By Frank Artés


It really was smiles all round as the last flight of the day taxied back to the ramp at the Tyendinaga airport, wrapping up a very successful Young Eagles Day on Saturday, September 15th.

This year’s event was organized by members of COPA Flight 53, a three-club partnership comprising the Prince Edward Flying Club, Oak Hills Flying Club, and Belleville Flying Club. The group had done a tremendous job inviting the Belleville Big Brothers and Big Sister organization to take part in the day’s events, which included a much-anticipated lunchtime barbecue.

It was an early start for the 28 bleary-eyed youngsters who were on the field by 8am. However, interest and enthusiasm soon took over as pilot/passenger check-ins began and the "Introduction to the Aircraft" briefings got underway. COPA Flight 53 Captain, Terry Clifton, had the task of explaining the finer points of how an airplane flies and what are all those controls for? to the kids as they assembled in groups ready for a thrilling day.

"This is one of the best parts of the Young Eagles Day," said Terry, "I’m always amazed at the questions these little guys come up with, and they sure know their stuff too, so you had better give them the right answer." Terry used a Piper Cub based at the airfield as the demonstration aircraft, beautifully finished in traditional Piper factory yellow. Some of the kids had flown in regular airline aircraft before but very few had flown in or even been close to a small airplane, so they were very excited.

A nice selection of aircraft was provided by the three clubs, and their very willing pilots were on-hand to undertake the flights: Jim Duffin (Citabria), Ken Yardy (Cessna Cardinal), Gerry Muma (Ercoupe), Jim Halls (Challenger), and Wayne Kimmett (Taylorcraft). It was a beautiful morning although the wind was starting to gust a little as the Ercoupe and 13 year old Steven Mullin took off for the first flight of the day. After that it was business as usual as a steady stream of potential pilots got to experience a 20 minute flight that followed a circuit route, heading five miles west of the airport and then south along the lakeshore, over Deseronto and back to the field.

The next two and a half hours gave all 28 youngsters a chance to get airborne, see some of the local scenery and experience a little of what general aviation is all about, and most importantly enjoy themselves. The day however wasn’t without its fair share of Gremlins and the two Jims bore the brunt. The wind picked up during the morning which proved a little too much for the Challenger and Jim Halls wisely parked it in the hangar for another day. The Citabria suffered a flat tailwheel tire much to the interest of the kids who shouted, "Hey! We can pump it up, no problem." But Jim Duffin said "I don’t think so, not this time," and he was right. The three remaining aircraft picked up the slack and did a tremendous job to make sure there were no delays and the flight operations continued smoothly. By noon everyone had been up and we were ready for lunch and the certificate presentation, which was taken very seriously by the kids who walked away beaming after receiving their award.

It had been a great day for everyone, the club members, pilots, the Big Brothers & Sisters organization…and of course the freshly minted Young Eagles. The COPA Flight 53 organizing committee had done a marvelous job in setting up the event and would like to thank everyone involved. A special thank you goes out to Ken Yardy, who had been a last minute participant and didn’t even take a coffee break, keeping the Cardinal really, really busy, particularly after the two other aircraft went out of service...many thanks Ken, super job. Also to Glen and Sandra Campbell for handling the certification process, and George Fredericks for tirelessly hand-propping the Taylorcraft…great job guys.