Free plane rides for kids

Come fly with me! Keith Williams took this picture on August 7, after he left the fly-in breakfast at Cresco. There were broken clouds at about 600 feet. He was right at the bottom of them; that's why it looks so hazy around the edges. This view was taken roughly over the "Omer Gasser" farm, looking SE along the old railroad right-of-way. Lime Springs youngsters might get an even better view of their hometown if they participate in the Young Eagle Program September 17 at the Cresco airport.

by Keith Williams

When I was a little kid growing up on the farm about five miles from Lime Springs, I noticed airplanes. Whenever I heard one, I’d run outside and look into the sky to see it and watch it as long as I could.

Dad made me a little plane with a wingspan or seven inches or so and a wooden body. The wing was a piece of leather, probably once part of a horse’s harness. The propeller was hand-carved by Dad from a piece of wood and attached to the front of the plane with a box nail.

When I held this little gem facing into the wind, the propeller would turn! The stronger the wind, the faster it would turn!

From that, I concluded that the wind created by any airplane moving swiftly through the air caused the propeller to rotate. This was totally incorrect, of course, and gave rise to the next question in my little head: What makes an airplane fly? It was years later when I found that answer.

When I had my little airplane, it had probably been less than 40 years since the very first airplane flew. There weren’t many of them in the skies overhead, so when I heard one it was a momentous occasion for me.

As the years progressed, my interest in airplanes continued to increase. I wanted to be a pilot! Of course I had never even touched an airplane, but I wanted to fly ’em! The closest I came to “flying” an airplane was when I cut the models off the back of the Wheaties boxes and tried to make them fly.

Then, one Sunday afternoon, we jumped into the car to go for a ride. This ride turned out to be something very special! Unannounced to us, Dad drove to Pietenpol Field, just west of Cherry Grove, and arranged for Bernard Pietenpol himself to give Harlene (my sister) and me an airplane ride!

Did the few bumps in the air turn my desires to be a pilot off? No way! That experience was the highlight of the summer and provided material for several reports in school.

Today, there are many more airplanes than there were back then, but how does a kid get a ride in one? For Lime Springs kids, there’s an easy answer.

The EAA (Experimental Airplane Association, headquartered in Oshkosh, Wis.) believes it is so important to have youngsters introduced to aviation that they created the Young Eagles program in 1993. Under this program, those eight through 17 years of age are given FREE airplane rides in the Young Eagle program.

My “flyin’ buddies” from the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City chapter of EAA will bring a Young Eagles event to the Cresco airport, with the full cooperation of the airport management. The event will be Saturday, September 17, from 9:00 to noon, weather permitting, of course. For a free airplane ride, all you have to do is be between eight and 17, bring a parent or guardian to sign the application form, and show up!

Our pilots give lots of youngsters their very first airplane ride. Both pilot and passenger love every minute of it! There are lots of smiles on faces as folks leave the Young Eagle events! Help put a smile on your child’s face and potentially take a significant step in forming his or her hobby or career.



2 Responses

  1. To see pictures taken at the Marion Young Eagles rally taken on August 20, go here:

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