Flying High

INDEPENDENCE — Heavy rain and winds held off Sunday morning just long enough to give 15 young aviators a chance at the copilot’s seat, many of them for the first time.   Josiah Starr, 14, of Junction City walked around a Velocity experimental aircraft with pilot David Ullman doing preflight checks at the Independence State Airport.   Wings, propeller and vents were checked on the outside. Another list of preflight checks was needed inside, including the headset and microphones.   “If you want to talk to me, you have to put that thing practically in your mouth,” Ullman said.    Starr adjusted the mic close to his lips.   “Can you hear me?” he asked.   “No,” Ullman responded. “It’s really hard. You have to really spit the words.”   The two worked on getting their communication in order while the plane rumbled to life, prop spinning in the back.   Tanner Roberts, 15, of Albany watched as the plane took off. One thing he learned during the weekend Teens in Aviation program was that planes will work if the bigger wings are on the back and the smaller ones in front, like on the Velocity.   “It’s kind of Ferrari style,” he said.   Roberts choose to spend his weekend learning about aviation through the free youth program because he wanted to explore flight, as he is considering a job in the Air Force.   Because of the pending wind and rain storm, program organizers were unsure if the flights would be possible. Photo by Emily Mentzer Rick Buckholz, 13, of Monmouth readies for his flight on Sunday at the Independence Airpark. He said it was terrifying, but fun. He looks foward to learning more about planes.   “I woke up this morning, looked up and it’s sunny,” Roberts said. “I was like, ‘Yes! We’re going to fly today.’”   Inside the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 292 hanger, Deeana Kosa, 16, of Keizer was learning how to properly wind the rubber band engine of a model plane.   Zell Giles pulled the propeller away from the balsa wood base and started winding until a full row of knots began to form. He slowly moved the propeller closer to the base and kept winding, until a second row of knots formed. The plane sailed across the hanger, dipping up.   “If it comes down and dips up like that, it’s tail heavy,” Giles explained. “You have to add a tab back there or move the nose up.”   Kosa had experience with planes through her grandfather and her various travels, but still learned a lot over the weekend about different types of planes.   “I like airplanes and meeting new people, making friends,” she said.   She’s not sure if she will pursue a pilot’s license, but has considered using aviation in the military. Photo by Emily Mentzer Zell Giles shows the kids in the teen aviation program the basics of flight in the EAA Chapter 292 hanger at the Independence Airport.   As for Andrew Pico, 16, of Rickreall, the aviation weekend reignited a childhood dream.   “I used to dream about being a pilot when I was younger, but hadn’t thought about it lately,” he said. “This definitely got me interested in it again.”   He said flying made him feel free, less constricted than being in a car.   “It feels like you’re floating,” Pico said. “There’s nothing controlling your upward and downward motion except you and the plane.”   The Teens in Aviation weekend was sponsored by the EAA Chapter 292; the Ninety-Nines, Oregon Pines Chapter; and the Salem RC Pilots Association.   Ullman, president of the EAA Chapter 292, said the club tries to put on these kinds of free events for teenagers twice a year.   “My big push has been youth aviation,” he said. “Fortunately, I’m not alone.”   Many pilots in the EAA Independence chapter are eager to share aviation with youth, he said. Pilots volunteer their time to teach kids.   The club has scholarships available to help teens take flight lessons, go to aviation camp, or learn aviation mechanics.   Take a Flight   The EAA Chapter 292, Independence, sponsors Young Eagles flights twice a year for those younger than 18. The next scheduled event is the second Saturday of June.   Teens interested in aviation may contact the EAA regarding aviation camps and flight lessons. Those older than 18 may take a plane ride through the Eagles program.   For more information, visit


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