For a moment above the ground, aspiring pilots can take control of a small airplane.
The 15-minute flight is in the hands of a young person who never has been in an airplane.
David Ames has given more than 700 children their first flight in an airplane.
A volunteer pilot for the Young Eagles program, Ames, 67, lets a first-time flier take over the controls of his Piper Cherokee Archer airplane — briefly.
“On a typical flight, you'll have a kid who is real nervous in the airplane and apprehensive about it,” said Ames, who lives in east Oklahoma City. “By the time we land, they want to go up again. It's a total transformation.”
Ames and pilot Pat Cohenour, a west Oklahoma City dentist, coordinate central Oklahoma flights for children in the Young Eagles, a nonprofit program founded by the national Experimental Aircraft Association.
Cohenour, 61, turned his hobby of flying his small Piper Arrow 200 into a way to share his passion for the air with aspiring pilots and other young people 8 to 17 years old.
Some who take their first flights as Young Eagles will be eligible for future scholarships and other assistance on their path to make flying a career, he said.
“We get more young people involved in aviation,” Cohenour said. “It's really rewarding.”
Cohenour has given more than 300 young people flights through the program.
Pilots throughout the country have gotten their start in Young Eagles since the 1990s, he said.
After an initial flight, youths may enroll in a ground school and learn to read instruments. Flying can be a motivational tool for working harder in school, he said.
Young Eagles “gives me a reason to fly,” Ames said.
“When I learned to fly, I realized you get a whole different perspective of the earth and your surroundings from the air,” he said. “When you fly, it is such a great feeling. I decided I wanted to give back some of that.”
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For more information about the Young Eagles program, go to www.
On a typical flight, you'll have a kid who is real nervous in the airplane and apprehensive about it. By the time we land, they want to go up again. It's a total transformation.”
Volunteer pilot with the Young Eagles program