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Local man wants to start aviation club

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A local pilot wants to create a Roswell chapter of a national aviation club.

Brent Middleton, who said he has a commercial rating and once piloted charter flights, wants to form a chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EEA) so that anyone with an interest, but especially students, can learn about aviation and perhaps build a single-engine plane and learn to fly.

“With all that is going on, aviation is a great place to be employed,” he said. “So we would like to bring this to the younger kids, high school kids, to introduce them to something they can do as far as a career.”

The first meeting is scheduled for Saturday, 8 a.m., in the second-floor conference room of the Roswell airport terminal building, 1 Jerry Smith Circle.

Middleton said he has been a member of the association for more than 15 years, including in Chicago where he used to live. He said he moved here a year ago and was surprised to find that there was no chapter in the region.

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According to the website of the national nonprofit based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, New Mexico has nine chapters, but the closest to Chaves County is in Alamogordo.

Middleton also said that club members might decide to work together to build a three-seat, single-engine plane that would belong to the club so that it could be rented out for flight lessons, saying that rental aircraft are needed in the region.

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell does offer ground school, but does not plan to have flight school in the coming years. But EEA chapters can offer an introduction into aviation and piloting, said Dick Knapinksi, senior communications advisor for the national group.

He said what is required for membership in the national group, which is needed to belong to a local chapter, is “enthusiasm, interest and appreciation” for aviation. The national group also has an annual fee, which comes with some extras besides just membership, he said.

“Local chapters support community aviation,” he said, “and they also can provide that first step into aviation for a lot of people.”

Knapinksi said local chapters also coordinate Eagle Flights, free flights for youth 8 to 17 that have been provided to about 2.2 million youth so far.

Brent Middleton can be contacted at eea.aliens@gmail.com.

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