International Young Eagles Day - Lanseria International Airport

By Russell Dixon-Paver


The Experimental Aircraft Association has an international initiative to introduce young people to aviation that is called the Young Eagles program with its sole mission “to introduce and inspire kids into the world of aviation”. It has been running since 1992 and the aim is to give youth ages 8-17 their first free airplane ride and more than 2.3 million young people have enjoyed a free introductory flight thanks to EAA members' generosity worldwide. South African EAA forms part of that program locally. ExecuJet hosted the event at their world class facility at Lanseria International Airport and provided sponsorship to make this day special for the young people to be introduced to the world of aviation, and, who knows, maybe some of them will be ExecuJet aviation team members in future?

ExecuJet also brought in Brian Emmenis' Capital Sounds to provide commentary, information and boost aviation spirit for the day to enhance the first aviation experience of the young people.

Capital Sounds arrived fresh-frozen from the Free State and set up their sound systems - on the air within 30 minutes of arrival!

It was a bitterly cold and windy day, but clear, so great for flying and especially for those who would fly for the first time.

Registration and paperwork was taken care of by the EAA and Young Eagles team.

Registration under way for 81 (there were some withdrawals and a few later entries, which balanced out) young people, with the coffee and breakfast trailer doing a roaring trade in the background, and the registration team from EAA and their Young Eagles team. Eugene Couzyn thought the registration needed some senior pilot oversight!

EAA volunteer members that already had at least 400 hours PIC flew their aircraft in and the apron in front of the ExecuJet hangars was soon crowded with aircraft waiting to execute their mission of inspiration.

Early arrivals included old hands Peter and Paul Lastrucci, posing with Derek Hopkins in front of the PA 12 and having a lighter moment of fun.

Some of the EAA member's aircraft populating the ExecuJet apron.

After the registration, the young people went to the canteen for coffee/water and muffins before the welcome and briefing. There was an excited buzz amongst the soon-to-be flyers.

Three local schools provided learners who had an interest in flying and other youngsters joined due to their connection with EAA members. Lanseria ATC staff children were also invited. Kwena Molapo Comprehensive Farm School with Headmaster, Michael Maligana, sent 30 learners, St. Ansgar's High School with Headmaster, John Chabalala, sent 15 learners and Dainfern College with Brain Leahy sent 8 learners.

Kwena Molapo and St. Ansgar's High Schools, were among some of the schools participating.

Marie Reddy welcomed all the young people, teachers and parents and gave an overall program for the day and a basic safety briefing. Marie also divided the young folks into four groups to facilitate hangar tours and allocation to flying slots. She also explained that patience would be required as Lanseria is a busy international airport, with scheduled commercial, business and flying school flights.

Marie Reddy welcoming the young people and introducied Tyla Puzey, who spearheads the EAA Young Eagles program locally, and her team of Young Eagles, who would guide the young people through the ExecuJet hangars, and supervise the safety around the aircraft they would fly in.

Tyla then gave some guidance on “how to become a pilot” - finding a flight school, prerequisites and her own experiences, as she works towards her own CPL. It was very interactive, with young folks asking many pertinent questions and getting answers from Tyla and other EAA members. This young lady said she wanted to be both a pilot and a model, and asked many questions.

ExecuJet also made special accommodation for the media, which is appreciated.

Themba, an ExecuJet Flight Line Assistant for the past four years, escorted photographers to the airside gate.

The Lanseria Fire Services tenders were on duty and did regular runway inspections.

One of the three fire tenders seen on the day. Some of the young people may also aspire to be aviation fire fighters.

Various departures and arrivals of young people becoming Young Eagles.

One of the groups completes their hangar tour.

Various movements of normal Lanseria air traffic. Sometimes the EAA aircraft had to wait for scheduled air traffic.

With the ExecuJet facility geared towards business aviation, their apron and hangars are normally almost exclusively populated by turboprop and jet aircraft, so it was probably the first time that their apron hosted such a number and variety of piston-propeller driven aircraft! There were 21 volunteer EAA pilots flying 19 aircraft, ranging from an Alouette II, through a Mustang Jet, KingAir, many RV's and Slings, to other experimental types, a Pitts Special, some Piper and Cessna vintage types and a Jabiru.

EAA and normal business aircraft on the apron.

Justin Gloy, ExecuJet's Safety and Events Manager, graciously and yet efficiently, was the EAA contact person for the event and was a Young Eagle himself. Philip Elof, their chief pilot, participated as pilot, flying a PA 28 Cherry Tree, and there was a much bigger team that supported the event including Lucy and Stephanie.

Back at the canteen to round off the event: Brian Emmenis introduced ExecuJet VP, Gavin Kiggen. Gavin welcomed the young people and remarked that it was good to utilise their facility to host such a worthwhile event. Brian also introduced Warren Lovell.

Gavin Kiggen addresses the new Young Eagles with Warren Lovell next to him.

Warren, who is the EAA Young Eagles Coordinator for South Africa, presented the certificates (which were signed by Warren Lovell and Paul Lastrucci, President of EAA, South Africa), caps and other goodies to the new flyers. Warren has recently joined the Leviate Air Group as Vice President of Europe and Africa and has moved to their new London office. He made a special trip to be at the event and thanked Marie and Tyla for their support to organize the event.

It was all huge smiles after a first flight experience!

Our now newly flown Young Eagles enthusiastically cheered each one who was called up to receive their Young Eagles certificate award, also shown here.

Some of the Young Eagle high-flyers outside ExecuJet proudly showing their caps and certificates. The faces speak of a mission accomplished!

Well done to the EAA management team and EAA Young Eagles team on ensuring a safe and enjoyable introduction to the world of aviation for these young folks.

EAA Young Eagles Flights 25 Feb 2023

Events 2024

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