BULLHEAD CITY — Brothers Nathan and Justin Paris were, understandably, excited.
Their mother, Traci Duff, was, understandably, a tad nervous.
Nathan, 8, and Justin, 9, were anxiously awaiting their first time in an airplane during Saturday’s Young Eagles event at Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport.
“You guys excited?” Duff asked.
Both boys nodded in the affirmative.
“It sounded like something fun to do, something interesting,” Duff said, explaining why she brought the boys to the event conducted by the Kingman chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association with the help of the Mohave Valley Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, the Mohave County Airport Authority and Signature Flight Support. “They seemed to be interested.”
“ ’Cause it’s fun,” said Nathan.
EAA Event Coordinator David Amspoker said Saturday marked the seventh year for a Young Eagles event that offered free flights to youngsters 8 to 17. There were six airplanes, each capable of taking up three passengers at a time, brought in and flown by EAA members in Mohave County.
The purpose is to introduce flight — and careers related to aviation — to children at an early age.
“In the early 1990s, the late ’80s, there were fewer general aviation pilots and fewer every year,” Amspoker said. “EAA figured they needed to do something to inspire young people to get interested in aviation, to think about the possibility of careers in aviation.
“There’s going to be a shortage in the next five years of 100,000 pilots.”
Amspoker hoped that some of the 60 to 100 youths expected to participate in Saturday’s flights would consider a career in aviation. By signing up, the youths became entered in the Young Eagles database and became eligible for a few perks in the future.
But the biggest goal was “to put ’em in an airplane and give ’em an experience they might not get otherwise.”
Part of the experience included a brief ground school, where children learned about the important parts of an airplane and “explain to the kids how the airplane can fly,” Amsporter said.
That included an introduction to Bernoulli’s principle, named after Swiss mathematician Daniel Bernoulli, relating to speed, pressure and potential energy.
“Most of these kids are very young,” said retired pilot Walter Klimach after conducting a session of the ground school. “They just want to get in an airplane and fly. The older kids are interested in this stuff.”
Klimach, also an EAA member, said his role helps him stay involved.
“I have a passion for flying,” he said. “I also have a passion for teaching.”
And, he added, it furthers EAA’s goal of inspiring and identifying future pilots.
“It’s to increase the exposure to young people, so they might discover their passion,” he said.
Gail and Alan Angerbauer, of Laughlin, brought two granddaughters, Sistine and Sophia, for their second taste of Young Eagles.
“Two years ago, they did the same thing,” Gail said. “It’s such a good experience for them to fly, to see Bullhead City from the air.”
She said both girls were fearless two years ago. But Sistine, now 10, expressed a little trepidation before taking her second flight.
“She loved it the first time, when she was 8,” Gail said. “She’s a little scared this time. But I’m sure she will love it again.”