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Experimental aircraft group offers free flights for children at the Valley View Airport in Estacada

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - An attendee of the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles Flight waves as he waits to go up in the air on Saturday, Aug. 18.

The sky was the limit for budding pilots and their mentors last weekend.

During an event at the Valley View Airport on Saturday, Aug. 18, Chapter 902 of the Experimental Aircraft Association flew 34 children to destinations like Oregon City and Mulino before making their way back to Estacada.

The Experimental Aircraft Association is open to anyone interested in flying, and Chapter 902 is the organization's branch for the Mount Hood region. The group meets monthly in Mulino to participate in a variety of aviation related activities.ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Shyla Williams, 18, attended the e Experimental Aircraft Association Air Academy in Oshkosh, Wis., earlier this summer. She credits her interest in aviation to a Young Eagles flight several years ago.

Through its Young Eagles program, the association organizes flights once a month from April through September at airports in Estacada, Troutdale and Mulino. Participants are between the ages of 8-17. Chapter 902 has flown more than 4,000 youths, and across the world the Experimental Aircraft Association has flown more than 2 million children.

Mike Rhodes, one of the association's members who offered flights last weekend, said it's valuable to show children the opportunities that aviation holds.

"It's important to expose kids to things that are possible," he said. "This is how you break barriers down and show that pilots are not an isolated group that you can't be a part of. It's just people who love what they do, and you can do it too."

Rhodes added that the Young Eagles flights are particularly useful today, with planes being less accessible than they used to be in some instances.

"Airports used to be open, with no fences," he said. "Now, it's harder for kids to relate to aviation. We want to make it more accessible. By having kids come here, we can show them what flying is like. It's hard to figure out what you want to do in life unless you're exposed to things."ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Planes flew youths to cities like Oregon City and Mulino during an event that began at the Valley View Airport in Estacada last weekend.

It's hardly a surprise that flying means a lot to those involved in the Experimental Aircraft Association.

"When I was 3 or 4, I remember standing in my front yard watching planes fly over. That's what created my interest," said Dick Scott, a board member of Chapter 902.

"It makes other stresses go away. If you're not in the moment, you're dead," said Rhodes.

Scott likes connecting with fellow aviation enthusiasts, as well.

"You hardly ever run into a pilot who was a crook," he said, adding that he appreciates being able to "step into an airport, and always have someone to talk to."

Along with offering opportunities for youths to spend time in the sky, Chapter 902 sends a student to the Experimental Aircraft Association Air Academy in Oshkosh, Wis., every summer. This year, Shyla Williams attended the program earlier this month.

During the weeklong academy, Williams, 18, learned the basics of aviation, attended workshops on building parts, rode in a helicopter and watched a night air show.

Her interest in planes took off during a Young Eagles flight three years ago. It was during that first flight that she realized she wanted to pursue a career in the field.

"It's honestly magical to be up in the air," said Williams, who was at the Young Eagles event on Saturday. "Who gets to say their office is in the clouds?"

She added that she is interested in flying commercially, but is also considering related options.

Attendees of the youth flights last weekend also enjoyed their time in the sky.ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Members of the Experimental Aircraft Association taught youths about airplane parts during an event on Saturday, Aug. 18.

Isaiah Risenmay, 11, went on a flight to Oregon City and Mulino. His favorite part was helping steer the plane for a stretch of the ride.

"That was really fun," he said, noting that he hopes to

go on more flights in the future.

Isaiah's father Tyler was glad to see his son participate in the event.

"It's an opportunity to learn something about (aviation)," he said.

Andy Trujillo, another parent, also thought the flights were a good experience.

"If they love it, maybe they'll be a pilot someday," he

said.

Young Eagles Flights

Chapter 902 of the Experimental Aircraft Association will host another day of Young Eagles flights on Saturday, Sept. 15. Parents of youths 8-17 interested in a free flight should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve a spot. Space is limited, and those who wish to participate should sign up as soon as possible.

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