Photos by Jessica Stugelmayer.
POLSON — Up, up and away went planes, volunteers and excited children Saturday at the Polson Airport.
The Polson chapter of the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) hosted their Young Eagles Fly-In as a chance for young locals to become involved with flying. Free of charge, the program takes children for a ride around Polson to view Kerr Dam and to get a bird’s eye view of the lake.
The EAA is a non-profit organization formed on the sole purpose of supporting and encouraging participation in aviation around the world.
Polson chapter 1122 president, Mauri Morin, said the club has been putting on these events for the past 12 years. Usually they get what he calls “repeat offenders,” kids who come back year after year, and those are the ones who make aviation a career. Morin said there are close to 2,000 children who have been flown by Polson’s volunteer pilots since the program began. Last year alone, in the two fly-ins there were 220 participants.
By 11 a.m., 25 young aviators had taken their turn in the sky with Saturday’s volunteer pilots Nels Jensen, Mike Hines, Trey Moran and Chuck Jarecki. The line kept growing as the morning went on and more children waited anxiously for their chance to fly.
But before they could take off, they had to complete ground school with EAA volunteer Ron Normandeau, where he led kids around an airplane and explained principles of lift and flight. Normandeau said he originally wanted to learn to scuba dive when he was a kid, but instead his mom sent him out to the airport to spend his time.
“I have yet to buy my scuba gear,” he said.
If you missed out on this weekend’s fly-in, don’t worry. The EAA will be holding another fly-in this October.