MANITOULIN EAST—Youths aged 7 to 17 will again have the opportunity to take to the skies this coming Saturday, July 12 as volunteer pilots from Manitoulin and across the North will be giving future pilots the chance to soar above the largest freshwater island in the world, all free of charge, thanks to the Young Eagles program.
Manitoulin East Airport manager and Young Eagles pilot George Dobbs told The Expositor that all children, 7 to 17, are welcome but encourages pre-registration. These forms can be picked up at the Northeast Town municipal office in Little Current, the Assiginack municipal office in Manitowaning or the Manitoulin East Municipal Airport located between the two communities on Highway 6 just south of 10 Mile Point. The rides will take place between 9 am to 12 noon based on a first come, first served basis.
Mr. Dobbs reminds parents, however, that the Young Eagles flight program is for kids only and that parents should not expect to also be taken up on the flight, but are more than welcome to wait for their young pilots on the tarmac below.
Hot dogs and pop will also be served, courtesy of the airport commission and GG’s Foodland, to all participants.
The flights last approximately 10 to 15 minutes and will take either one of two routes: above Little Current or Wikwemikong, depending on where the passengers would like to go.
Once the flight is over, the high flyers will be presented with a certificate, denoting them as a certified Young Eagle. This also gives them a chance to log on to the Young Eagles website.
The aim of the program, Mr. Dobbs said, is to get the younger generation involved and introduced to aviation and what it’s like to ride in an airplane for those who may not yet have had the chance to do so.
“It also promotes the airport in the community,” Mr. Dobbs added, “and the things it does. Some people may have the view that it’s just for ‘rich people’ with planes, when in fact it’s used regularly by air ambulance and police too, as well as by many other groups.”
The Young Eagles program is proudly sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, which provides insurance to all of the volunteer pilots who participate. The airport commission, as well, provides the return fuel for the pilots who make the trek from as far away as Timmins and Oshawa to participate.