Look skyward on Saturday morning, and you might see some of Columbia’s children being chauffeured across the horizon at 120 mph in a local pilot’s private aircraft 2,500 to 3,000 feet above your rooftop.
A Day at the Columbia Regional Airport on Saturday will include free plane rides for children ages 8-17, seminars for pilots given by the Federal Aviation Administration and exhibits of small aircraft.
“Words can’t describe the enthusiasm of the kids for flying,” said Dave Martin, who will be coordinating the flights for children.
Martin is the Young Eagles Coordinator for Chapter 409 of the Experimental Aircraft Association, based in Jefferson City. The Young Eagles is a program created by the EAA that organizes and conducts events that aim to get children interested in aviation, Martin said.
Pilots who are EAA members will take children on precharted flight routes over the Columbia area from 9 to noon on Saturday. Most of the planes will be single-engine aircraft that seat between two and four, Martin said.
“Some planes are a little faster than others,” he said, adding that one pilot will bring a Cirrus plane capable of flying 170 mph.
Participants must have a parent or legal guardian sign a waiver before flying.
The day’s events, however, do not cater exclusively to daring youngsters.
In the morning, the FAA will host seminars for local pilots on safety-related topics such as thunderstorms and aircraft icing, said Bill Boston, airport manager.
In addition, there will be FAA “Wings” presentations in the afternoon that give attending pilots credit toward the education requirements for their licenses, Boston said.
He also said there will be an exhibit of less common aviation equipment, such as hot-air balloons, radio controlledplanes and powered parachutes.