The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has launched a new aviation mentoring program based on Young Eagles, but this time is targeting adults. The organization inaugurated the new Eagle Flights program during last week’s 2012 Airventure in Oshkosh, Wis., providing a flight to Diane Thornton, a longtime Texas educator and school administrator who is now national director of the “Learning for Life” program that oversees the Aviation Exploring program. She flew in EAA President Rod Hightower’s personal T-6 military trainer.
The program kicks off as Young Eagles celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, flying more than 1.7 million young people since 1992. But the Eagle Flights program will involve a more structured program with registration materials and additional insurance coverage provided through EAA. Eagle Flights participants can be flown either in single flights or part of larger rallies typically hosted by EAA chapters.
Official attendance numbers are not released yet, but this year’s Airventure has drawn 2,500 showplanes, and the number of Piper J-3 Cubs attending grew to a record-breaking 200. More than 4,800 volunteers worked the event that attracted 800 exhibitors.
EAA has not furnished overall attendance figures yet, but it does say some 2,100 international visitors came from 69 nations.
EAA also says there were “lots of first time visitors this year.” One such first-timer – FAA acting Administrator Michael Huerta.