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Taking flight: Area students encouraged to participate in the Young Eagles Program

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The Young Eagles are about to take flight over Detroit Lakes.

Students ages 8-17 will have a chance this weekend, Sept. 21, to fly around Detroit Lakes thanks to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 1492 and the Young Eagles Flight Rally at the Becker County/Detroit Lakes Airport.

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The rally is part of the EAA Young Eagles Program, created to interest young people in aviation. Since the program was launched in 1992, volunteer EAA pilots have flown more than 1.8 million students who reside in over 90 countries.

Pilots at the event will also explain more about their airplanes allowing students to discover how airplanes work and how pilots ensure safety is the prime concern prior to every flight.

Following the flight, each student will receive a certificate making him or her an official Young Eagle. Their name will then be entered into the “World’s Largest Logbook,” which is on permanent display at the EAA Air Adventure Museum in Oshkosh, Wis.

The logbook is also accessible on the Internet at www.youngeagles.org.

Additional information about EAA and the EAA Young Eagles program is available at www.eaa.org.

Area pilots have been instrumental in offering this program to the Detroit Lakes area youth. Duane “Doc” Wething, whom the airport field is named after, took his first flight at age 8 and he was hooked.

In high school, he took flying lessons and earned his pilot’s license. He has been participating in the Young Eagles program since its conception in 1991. He has flown over 350 kids throughout the years. At Wething Field, there have been over 2,000 flights for youth through the Young Eagles Program.

Another pilot, Bob Raatz, was also exposed to aviation at age 8 and was hooked as well. It became a lifelong career, and he is now retired from Northwest Airlines. Bob lives in Hawaii, and summers in Perham.

Larry Stockert became involved in aviation through work opportunities as a child in the South Dakota sugar beet fields. He was a flag boy for a Super Cub spray plane.

He remembers making 10 cents an acre and working from 3:30 to 7 or 8 a.m. He always kept an interest in flying and took lessons as an adult under local Certified Flight Instructor Bob Lund. Today, Larry is involved in three chapters of Young Eagles: Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls and Fargo.

Dr. Dave Glatt started flying at the age of 15 and participated in the Civil Air Patrol. He earned his pilot’s license in 1969 and continues to fly. He is a medical doctor for Sanford Health in Fargo and does medical exams for pilots.

Darrol Schroeder’s interest in aviation started at age 15 when a neighbor pilot took him for a ride. He earned his pilot’s license while in high school and bought a plane for $200. He then entered the military and flew fighter planes for 35 years.

He advanced through the ranks to become a general for the North Dakota Air Guard. He also flew civilian agricultural aircraft. He feels that participating in the Young Eagles program is a great mission to get youth interested in aviation.

Bob Lund initially got into aviation as a hobby during his off time from work as a rural mail carrier. He has been a Certified Flight Instructor since 1966. He has flown kids for the Young Eagles program, and has two generations of family that share in his love of aviation.

Dennis Jacobs’ dad was a pilot and he fondly remembers flying with him as a child. After graduation from high school, Jacobs went into the Peace Corp in Malaysia. He saved his money and when he returned home, he bought a plane and earned his pilot’s license.

Flying went on the back burner for a few years, but 10 years ago, his brother took him back up and he realized how much he had missed it. He got up to date on his skills and started flying again.

He has participated in the Young Eagles Program since 1993 and finds it very rewarding when kids discover the possibilities aviation may provide for recreation or career.

Ted Kiebke remembers as a child that he always looked up in the sky to watch planes and thought, “Someday that’s what I’m going to do.” When he turned 18, he went into the aviation wing of the Navy.

When he retired, he flew for recreation, but found that he wanted to use his plane for something, a mission. Every adult and child that he exposes to aviation is a mission: to watch their face and see their excitement.

Ted has shared that excitement with many others, including his family. He has a grandson who is a Naval Officer in Flight Training in Pensacola, Fla. His grand daughter attends college at Arizona State University in the Aviation Program. She successfully completed her solo flight this summer, flying a 1946 Ercoupe. She became hooked after attending a community education class taught by her grandpa, Kiebke, and Dennis Jacobs.

The Introduction to the Aviation class, taught by Kiebke and Jacobs, and their inspiration came from the Oshkosh, Wis., Adult Eagles Program, which was newly developed to get adults interested in aviation.

The Detroit Lakes class had 27 people ages 16-68. The success of the program has them planning to offer the weekly class again in the spring of 2014. Until then though, every Saturday at 9-11 a.m., there are coffee, donuts and visiting with the pilots and mechanics at the airport in Detroit Lakes.

The pilots are always looking forward to opportunities such as the Young Eagles Program to share their passion with others.

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