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Thread: Young Eagles Rally's...Making The Experience A Good One

  1. #1
    WindOnHisNose's Avatar
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    Young Eagles Rally's...Making The Experience A Good One

    SJ gave me the task years ago of putting together the Young Eagles rally at the New Holstein Airport Appreciation Day. Many of you have helped with this, in a variety of ways. It occurs to me that it might be useful to put together a guide of things that make the Rally's excellent. I would like to gather any ideas/concepts that you might have and circulate these to those who orchestrate Young Eagle Rally's, and to circulate these ideas to Young Eagle Coordinators in MN. This concept came to me while I was visiting with a good friend who does many YE flights, and who has seen the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in terms of Young Eagle Rally's.

    For example...

    Long wait times...The pre-event registration was such that kids (and their parents) were waiting long times for their flights. We are talking an hour or more. I'm not sure about you, but standing around killing time with a youngster is not particularly gratifying.

    Complicated preflights...You may recall that at New Holstein we have a static display, using one person's aircraft as an example which is used by a pilot to describe the control surfaces, etc, so that the next in line, so to speak, can gain that understanding before being placed with their pilot. You may recall that we do this at New Holstein. The example that sticks in my mind is the year in which my super cub was used as a static display (broken bungee) and Jim "Big Deal" Dickerson was the instructor whose job was to familiarize the kids with the airplane. My job was to accompany the youngster, and their parent, from Jim's station to the intended pilot. I remember a woman with her little daughter who approached me from Jim's station and she rather sheepishly told me that Jim had told her that I was "Famous". He had told her that I had flown the Shuttle, that I had circled the Moon twice. I looked over at Jim and he was hiding his ****-eating grin from me...

    The point of this message is to ask you what has made your Young Eagles Rally's most succesful. I want to accumulate your ideas and share them with those who run Young Eagle Rallys.

    Thanks for giving this some thought.

    Randy

  2. #2
    hotrod180's Avatar
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    Years ago, we had a YE event at our airport and a guy showed up who had a personal goal of wanting to fly XXX number of YE's.
    He would load up the kids, take one long lap around the patch, then come back for another load.
    Not a very quality experience for the kids.
    The one good aspect is that none of them had enough time to get airsick.
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!

  3. #3
    SJ's Avatar
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    To be clear, Randy single handedly envisioned and created the Young Eagles event at New Holstein. It's been a huge success in the community. Yes he has had great volunteers, great pilots, and help from the local EAA chapter, but really, he is the glue that sticks it all together.

    Thanks, Randy!

    sj
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
    ------------------------------------------
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    This is my 6th year of coordinating YE events. I have a damn good group of pilots as well as a few that I really do not care if they show up.
    My wife and my best pilot's wife work the desk and I have one guy as my troubleshooter. Great at it too. Dang breezy days and printers.

    For me, I like to roam and talk to the parents, some are real cool, some are not so comfortable. My pilots can handle the moods and fears of the kids.
    I find time with the parents can really shape the youths' outcome of the day, be it their first flight or 20th. Around here there are a lot of families that are not well funded.
    Parents have no clue who these pilots are or even, let's say, their child shows a true interest and ability in flying, what the possible future could be.
    I spend time making the family aware that there is generous funding assistance available. With this knowledge we started seeing more returning youth, well, till the world caved in last year.

    One great treat is we have the leaders of our local Starbase school at our events, Oh they do a good job of opening some of the youths eyes and minds while they wait for their flight.

    Over here, our state is still on lockdown so no events scheduled yet although we are doing private and semi private flights, both for first timers and a few of our favored families. Got to keep the smiles growing.

    Out of curiosity, has that EAA chapter caught on and continued the YE events?
    Regards, Charlie
    Super Coupe E-AB build in process
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    hotrod180's Avatar
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    IMHO one of the good effects with YE events is not only the kids,
    but the parents get a positive taste of aviation.
    So maybe the next time they hear some airplane noise,
    instead of saying "there goes one of those rich asshole pilots" with a scowl...
    maybe they'll say "that looks like the plane little Johnny got a ride in" with a smile.
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!
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    I have experienced when the local paper posts the event as “Free Airplane Rides” the wrong type of crowd shows up with kids that have no interest in flying and parents are only there for the “Free”.

    Have to work with press to get the right message out for the papers or social media. I won’t fly for the YE events when it’s promoted that way since it costs a lot of time, effort and money for the pilots.

    Just curious how is it promoted for the New Holstein event? I haven’t flown for YE event there yet. It is very rewarding when someone comes up and says they got their pilots license after flying with you in one of these events... I had at least two that I remember saying they got hooked on flying after I took them up in my old J3. Didn’t recognize them, but they recognized me.
    Last edited by DavePA11; 06-01-2021 at 01:15 AM.
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    Yes marketing is very important. My wife and I develop all the press releases and provide content for the media. We also select the media that promotes us.
    We work with volunteers, be they chapter members as well as parents whom have joined in to place flyers around the region. These flyers are colorful and informative as to what and when the events are. It might be our flyers depict a more upscale environment or maybe we have simply been lucky.

    We surprisingly have had very little problem with the families that have joined us especially since this region is quite a mix on the economic and ethics scale.

    My wife and I are going to expand our YE events out to other regional airports both in association with a chapter that does not have any YE involvement as well as two airports with no EAA involvement. My biggest fear at two of these airports is garnering to much interest. We are well geared for 40 to 70 youth events, I am afraid of ending up with over 100 rides since we are simply not scaled for this.
    Regards, Charlie
    Super Coupe E-AB build in process
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    My local EAA chapter wasn't doing Young Eagle flights when I joined (~10 years ago). I inquired, and was told there had been some bad experiences, and the leadership was "against it." I spoke to every single one of the people in leadership positions, and they all said the same thing: "Our members don't want to do Young Eagles flights." But after speaking with probably half the members 1:1, I got the distinct impression that people just didn't understand the program, and that "someone" had been feeding them bad information about it.

    Finally, during one of our monthly meetings, I brought up the idea of conducting a Young Eagles flight rally. After explaining the program a bit, asked how many members would support hosting a Young Eagles event. Most of the hands were raised. I then asked what were the concerns that people had about the program that kept them from wanting to participate? The answer surprised me – it was pretty much all because of the youngest kids (8 and 9 year olds) potentially being "problematic" in the air. Many (most?) of the pilots felt that 8-year-olds were simply too young to have a true interest in flying, and many of them were simply too immature to handle a flight on their own. The consensus was that if we could set the minimum age at 10, the chapter would support Young Eagles events.

    So that's what we did, and since then, we've had a couple of Young Eagles rallys at our airport each year (other than during the Covid lockdown). We typically have between 7-10 pilots sign up to fly 4 kids each, and a few of the guys will stay over and fly anyone "extra" who shows up and is willing to stick around for a flight. We have generally been able to fill all our available flight slots without "advertising" them at all... As the chapter's Young Eagles coordinator, I receive enough request through the EAA's website and via referrals from chapter members that we often fill all the available seats even before making the event "public" on the EAA website.

    The events have been remarkably successful – lots of fun for the kids, and maybe even more fun for the volunteers (including the pilots). We've had three kids obtain EAA scholarships to earn their wings (2 fully-funded Ray Scholarships, and one funded half by the EAA and half by donations from within the chapter). One kid has his PPL and is headed to an Air Force ROTC scholarship, the second has soloed and is making good progress. The third had their training interrupted by a combination of factors (Covid, local flight school moving to an airport pretty far away, etc.), but has now soloed and is making progress again.

    We have another rally scheduled for June 12th, and I'm excited because for the first time, I will get to fly some of the kids myself. Up to now, I've had to stay on the ground, playing the role of "Ground Boss" (herding the cats) for the event because we were so new at it and lots of challenges came up. But this time around, we think we've got enough experience that one of the former chapter leaders agreed to be the "Ground Boss" so that I could fly. I can't wait!
    Jim Parker
    2007 Rans S-6ES
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  9. #9
    WindOnHisNose's Avatar
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    Thanks for the insights, folks! Excellent points. Keep 'em coming!

    Randy

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