Home News Local News Area youth fly high at Young Eagles event

Area youth fly high at Young Eagles event

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Pilot John Lorenz of Edgewood and Alex Armendariz get ready for a flight Saturday at the Roswell Air Center. Armendariz, one of about 50 youth in the area who signed up for free flights during Young Eagles Day, organized by local chapter 1193 of the Experimental Aircraft Association, says he is thinking about going into the military and found his first flight in a private plane to be relaxing and enjoyable. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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[This post has been updated to correct a spelling of a name.]

Many young residents in the area took to the skies Saturday morning alongside some experienced pilots as the Roswell-Artesia chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association held a Young Eagles Day at the Roswell Air Center.

Three aircraft and their pilots were on hand to provide free flights to youth ages 8 to 18. Matt Winiker of the GoFastPilots flight school also participated, using the school’s Cessna Skyhawk II to provide some pre-flight lessons about aircraft and flying.

Shawn Jipp, vice president of local chapter 1193 of the EAA, said about 50 kids had signed up for rides, with more on a waiting list.

“The whole thing is about young people getting interested in aviation,” said local businessman Jon Hitchcock, also a member of the EAA and the Civil Air Patrol. “The Civil Air Patrol and the EAA want to interest young people in flying.”

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Each chapter of the EAA is expected to host at least one Young Eagles Day each year. At other times of the year, members meet to build airplanes from kits or for other matters concerning general aviation, the term for non-military or non-commercial aircraft flight.

Several local EAA members said they would like to see much more general aviation activity at the Roswell Air Center and think the Young Eagles Day is a good way to seed interest that could grow into aviation-related careers or activities for younger people.

While several younger flyers said they enjoyed a chance to see the skies, land and, in some cases, steer the plane for a few minutes, Haven Navarrette, 12, was one of those who already feels certain that aviation is the career for him. He said he has been in commercial airliners, but he had much more fun during his ride in the cockpit of a Piper fixed-wing single engine craft piloted by Alamogordo airport manager Jim Talbert.

“I want to get my pilot’s license in the Civil Air Patrol,” he said. “I want to join the Civil Air Patrol. My dad is already signing me up for it.”

Kalith Smith, director of the Toles Learning Resource Center for New Mexico Military Institute, brought son Knox and daughter Brenna for the flights. He said both have expressed some interest in aviation, with his daughter being more interested in the idea of becoming a pilot.

“There are a lot of pilots who are going to be retiring in the years ahead and we are going to need pilots,” Smith said. “Certainly being a pilot would be a good career.”

Brent Middleton and John Lorenz also piloted kids around the area. Middleton is president of the local EAA chapter and one of the organizers of the Young Eagles Day, and he flew a twin-engine Cessna. Lorenz of Edgewood brought in a former Army plane, a 1942 single-engine Interstate 6.

More information about the local EAA chapter is available by contacting Middleton at eaa.aliens@gmail.com or visiting the website, eaaaliens.com.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.