St. Cloud Young Eagles

by | Aug 19, 2022 | Stories | 0 comments

The St. Cloud Young Eagles program began in 1992 as a community outreach by local chapters of the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA). The chapters of EAA were encouraged to provide free plane rides for children interested in aviation through rallies open to the public and individual flights through personal contact. EAA 551, the St. Cloud chapter of EAA, began giving flights that same year. This summer marks 30 years of the Young Eagles!

As a chapter event Young Eagles is unique in that it is entirely a volunteer aviation opportunity. EAA central (or Oshkosh) provides a great deal of the necessary documents, insurance, advice, and technical support but it remains a local event. Chip Sauers, EAA 551 2022 President and Young Eagles coordinator, shared information about the program. 

young eagles st cloud“It has been great to view the ongoing interest in aviation by the younger generations and then see them become pilots themselves. Every kid who has looked up when a plane flies over and wondered what it would be like to be up there may finally get that chance. We will be holding a Young Eagles Rally at St. Cloud Regional Airport on September 17th, and registration for children 8-17 will open the week before online at “Young Eagles Day” or YEday.com. There is a listing there of all the area YE events, so click on St. Cloud and it will take you to a registration page with a choice of six morning time slots.”

“My first year coordinating, 2019, was challenging as we had to cancel rallies twice due to weather. In the second year, Young Eagles rallies were shut down along with the rest of the country.  Last year we were able to have two rallies in St Cloud but Little Falls was unavailable due to runway construction. Weather is the major “unknown” element and, on occasion, cancellation can’t be decided until the morning of the rally. All the planning does not guarantee success, but we have a great chapter and people are willing to step in and help.”

“Young Eagles does need many volunteers to help with the rallies. We mostly draw from chapter members but, depending on the task, we may use other interested individuals. We have also received charitable donations from participant’s donations at the rallies, from EAA 551 chapter dues and donations, VFW Granite Post 428, and EAA Young Eagles at Oshkosh. The donations go toward rally expenses. We also receive a great deal of essential support from many community partners. St.  Cloud Aviation provides the hangar and other practical help for our Young Eagles rallies at St. Cloud airport. The St. Cloud Regional Airport and Air Traffic Control provide direction and advice on the use of the grounds and security. We also hold a rally in Little Falls where the airport provides a sheltered outdoor location on the grounds. Recently Lakes Area Aviation in Little Falls has volunteered pilots and planes.”

“Currently, advertising of Young Eagles rallies is done on the St Cloud Airport website and news stories on local radio outlets. In the past, we used posters, billboards, and newspapers but the current methods are providing more interest than we can support at this time. There is planning in the works to increase Young Eagles beyond rallies to include “build a plane” and other workshops and, of course, the chapter would like to have its own facility at the airport for all of these activities. Also, EAA 551 is currently registered with the Area Initiative Foundation for charitable donations.”

“Through EAA in general – and therefore Young Eagles – a person is able to see the part aviation has in many lives – commercial, private, and military. Through the exposure of youths to aviation, one can see the potential for career, recreation, and service to our country revealed.”

#StCloudShines

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