Quad-City aviation enthusiasts hope to encourage a new generation of pilots by taking area youth to the skies during the Young Eagles Flight Rally on Saturday.
Sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 75, the rally offers free airplane rides to youth ages 8-17. It will be from 8-11 a.m. at the Davenport Municipal Airport.
"Free airplane rides are just a part of the Flight Rally," said Bob Thomas, the event's spokesman. "We hope to build one-to-one relationships between pilots and young people, giving a new generation a chance to learn more about the possibilities that exist in the world of aviation."
During the event, participants will learn how an airplane operates, participate in a pre-flight check and be at the controls during a flight with the volunteer pilots.
Thomas said the program is aimed at helping raise awareness of careers in aviation. "The pilot population in the U.S. had declined significantly over the last 20 years," he said adding "Most the private pilots are getting older and there is not a lot of young people getting into it."
The chapter hosts three Young Eagles programs annually across the Quad-City region, in Davenport, Clinton and Geneseo.
In addition the rides, he said each participant receives an official Young Eagle certificate, a logbook showing their flight and is offered a free private pilot online course. Thomas said the written course is a pre-requisite to taking pilot lessons, and normally costs $100.
Each participant's name also will be entered into the "World's Largest Logbook" on permanent display at the Experimental Aircraft Association Air Adventure Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It also is available at www.youngeagles.org.
The Young Eagles program, launched in 1992, has flown more than 2 million young people in more than 90 countries.