The morning cold couldn't dampen the excitement of a group of kids awaiting what for many would be their first-ever airplane ride.
The Sierra Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program
took 17 boys and girls on free flights over Carson City Saturday, giving each a thrilling experience of flying in a small airplane.
"I think this is going to be something to remember because it's the first time I've ever done it," said Gabriel Giannini, 11, of Reno as he waited his turn to fly.
Mike Rooker of Carson City brought his three sons " Wyatt, Jared and Dilyn " to experience their first plane ride.
"These guys donate their time, and I imagine plane fuel isn't cheap," Mike Rooker said of the pilots. "These guys are doing this to give back. I realize they get a lot of fun out of it. But this is great."
Part of the reason for giving rides is to foster an understanding of aviation for a new generation.
"There's not many people in aviation who didn't get started with their first flight when they were a kid," said Bob Dickinson, president of EAA Sierra Chapter. "I know for all of us it was that way."
Dickinson remembers his first flight when he was 12. He won a free ride in a contest for hawking newspapers on a street corner in Orlando, Fla.
For Mike Reynolds, one of the pilots volunteering his time and aircraft to pass along his love for flying, that first ride happened in an aging Cessna 182 at age 13, an event that changed his life.
"That airplane was so old, I swear to you, parts were falling off," Reynolds laughed. "But at my age and my knowledge, I didn't care. I was excited."
That ride eventually led Reynolds to a career as a military test pilot. Now retired, he teaches math and aviation at Rite of Passage High School in Minden, and spends whatever extra money he has on his Piper Cherokee.
"There's a lot of careers associated with aviation, pilots, maintenance , air traffic controllers, you name it," Reynolds said. "A lot of those career paths started with that first airplane ride."
The Young Eagles program has been going on in Carson City for 12 years, and they go flying once a month, weather permitting. Dickinson said their goal this year is to take up 200 kids.
More than 1.4 million kids have flown nationwide in the Young Eagles program. Film star and accomplished pilot Harrison Ford is national chairman of the Young Eagles, and is a Young Eagles pilot.
Contact reporter Kirk Caraway at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 881-1261.