Aviation enthusiasts want to bring Young Eagles program here
A former president of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 445 of Tallahassee, who is also a former Cairo resident, sought the Cairo City Council’s approval to host an event at the Cairo Municipal Airport designed to peak the interest of local youth in aviation.
Danny Deason introduced city councilmen to the EAA Young Eagles program that gives youths, ages 8-17, an opportunity to fly in an airplane with experienced pilots. All of the pilots from Chapter 445 who would be involved have in excess of 500 hours of flight time.
According to EAA, the program was launched in 1992 and since then more than 1.6 million Young Eagles have enjoyed flights in aircraft.
“There is no cost to participate, and there is no cost to the city. This has been a focus of our chapter for the past six years and we have flown probably 300 kids,” Deason said.
An upcoming event will be held in Camilla and previous flight have been held in Decatur and Thomas counties.
Deason was accompanied by Steven Bible, who is training to become an airplane mechanic at the city airport. Bible told councilmen bringing the Young Eagles program to Cairo would “spread a positive light on the airport.”
According to the former EAA Chapter 445 president, the event is covered by a $1 million insurance policy, which is over and above the $1 million carried by the individual pilots.
Cairo Mayor Richard VanLandingham asked if the hosting of such an event would prevent others from using the airport at the same time. Deason said that it would not and that a maximum of six aircraft would be participating.
The mayor also suggested the airport committee should be consulted and involved in the decision.
Bible said he agreed and had shared the prospect with members of the airport committee, but “they shot it down.”
Mayor Pro Tem James H. (Jimmy) Douglas asked Bible why the airport committee would be opposed to such an event. Bible said they had told him it “was too much” to get involved in.
Deason and Bible said the city’s only involvement would be allowing the facility to be used.
Bible also hoped that a volunteer group would be interested in participating and possibly serving a light lunch or refreshments the day of the event.
The mayor pro tem suggested the city manager meet with the airport committee to better understand their position, talk with other area airports where similar events have been held and to bring back a recommendation to the council at its Feb. 27 meeting.
“This is a good way to promote your airport and to get the kids involved. There are over 300 jobs associated with the aviation industry and this is a fun, but safe way to get kids interested,” Deason said.