Something extraordinary happened at the Santa Ynez Airport. Fifty-one teenagers from 5 organizations throughout Santa Barbara County experienced the thrill of flying an airplane thanks to the men and women of the Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez chapters of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association).
On a beautiful, calm, clear morning youth listened to a flight briefing given by Les Clark, chapter president, before taking to the air. Out on the tarmac waited 12 EAA pilots and their aircraft eager to show the nervous and excited teens, many which had never been farther than their neighborhoods, what the world looked like from a different point of view.
For plane enthusiasts it was a unique display of aircraft. Lloyd Sorensen boasted that his 1948 Cessna 140 was the oldest plane flying that day. Piper Arrows, Cessna 172s, Piper Cubs and Aeroncas filled the sky as the youth went up with one attitude and came down with another. Heads held high, the new aviators watched as their logbooks, (donated by Sporty’s Pilot Shop) were signed signifying that that they had flown an airplane. Jenny remarked at the end of her flight, “this is a safe way to get high!”
Midmorning hotdogs were put on the barbeque and served with chips, water or a soda. An EAA volunteer named Mike walked over to the group of 70 people and announced, “lunch is on me.” That’s the spirit of the EAA and the women and men who are part of this national program.
By noon it was easy to see that it wasn’t just the students who had experienced something special. Counselors, teachers, mentors, parents and grandparents were all inspired by what they had witnessed. It was a perfect example of organizations coming together to provide an empowering experience for our youth.