On February 2nd, 2019 there was a meeting at the Barnstable Municipal Airport about the formation of a local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter. Having been an EAA member for some time, including with Chapter 534 is Central Florida during my time in Tavares, I was excited to help make a Cape Cod chapter a reality! Since the prior June I had been working with another individual, Jim, to get the chapter off the ground…
By April 2019 we were an official chapter, and became the reconstitution of EAA Chapter 51. Flash forward to September 2019 and we were 17-members strong and growing, with big aspirations.
On Saturday, September 21st we hosted our first Young Eagles rally, an event we held at our home base, HYA. Our goal was to have a small Young Eagles rally so we could all learn to work together and see how things flowed without being overly inundated. The event was planned to be held at the Ross Rectrix FBO and they were amazing hosts! When Emily and I arrived at 7:30am to start getting things set up the Ross Rectrix team already had a table and chairs set up for us. Then they were nice enough to bring over donut holes for us and the kids! More chapter members poured in with our support ground staff arriving by car and our pilots all flying over from the close-by Falmouth Airpark.
We set up a viewing area with a 10′ x 10′ tent, a dozen folding chairs and bottled water. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, the weather was perfect, sky clear, no bumps in the air and calm winds. The tower was using Runway 33 which was also perfect. The 33 departures meant that departing aircraft would climb out right by our viewing area!
The pilot briefing at 8:30 was excellent and laid out a good plan for the flights to takeoff and head out towards Sandy Neck Beach before turning Northeast towards Wellfleet, then over Chatham and back towards HYA. We coordinated with the Hyannis Air Traffic Control Tower and they were very accommodating, making the experience all the more easy! By 9am we were all set up and ready to go. The kids started to trickle into the FBO. Emily ran the registration table and Pete handled the ground school briefing with a Cessna 172 before kids were paired with a pilot. Our pilots, Rich, Rick, John, David and Sherry all gave rides in their aircraft, the Young Eagles we able to fly in one of a variety of aircraft including a Cessna 172, Cessna 182RG, Socata TB-20 and an RV-10.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to holding these events including car parking signage, registration table supplies, TSA-escorting of unbadged individuals, aircraft and pilots capacity, etc… The group members all pulled together and were able to make for a (mostly) seamless event for the participants.
All the kids came back with that famous “first flight smile,” with many of them anxious for their next opportunity to fly! We ended up flying 6 Young Eagle flights, which might be a small number for many EAA chapters, but for our first attempt, we consider this a significant success! We’re anxious for our next opportunity – planned for Saturday, November 2nd at the Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA).
The really cool part was how all of the members of our group pictured contributed to help make the event a fun experience for the kids and an operationally sound event for ourselves. Now we feel confident we can hold larger rallies and get even more youth the opportunity to experience flight!
-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9