Last year, our family discovered the Young Eagles program, where all four of our children were taken up in a Cessna airplane over the farm fields and the bay area where we live. They went in search of our house while the children learned about flying from the pilot, a gentleman who has been flying for many years. The experience was free and absolutely priceless. The experience sparked an interest in our 12yo daughter who hopes to become a pilot (upon hearing that, our pilot said, “That’s why we do this!”).
The Young Eagles program takes children on first flights across America and Canada. Your kids will fly for free! The children are first introduced to the airplane as they help the pilot check it before take-off. They then buckle in and fly for about 15-20 minutes. After they land safely, the children are giving a logbook to take home.
The students are also given a free EAA membership, which includes an online magazine and free access to over 300 science and technology museums.
The students are also given free access to an online aviation course. Here’s the description:
EAA and Sporty’s Pilot Shop have teamed up to offer Sporty’s Complete Flight Training Course – a $215 value – offered for free!
This online course is designed to take you all the way through the process of passing the FAA written exams (required tests to earn your private pilot certificate) and more.
Then, your child between the ages of 13-19 who has completed Part I (recreational aviation) of the free online aviation course above, will qualify to take a free introductory flight lesson – a real flight lesson – that normally costs about $120.
If your child is still interested in flying, he or she may then submit an application for a full or partial scholarship to continue private pilot lessons. Over $300,000 in funds are set aside for those students over 14 years old who have completed the entire online aviation course.
How to Learn More: The entire program I mentioned above is explained more fully on this YE Flight Plan page.
How to Get this Freebie: Yes, free! We didn’t pay a single penny for the experience. Visit Learn to Fly for more information including a list of participating locations. Note: My location is not listed, so yours may not be as well. I found out about ours through the local newspaper. Only about a dozen children showed up on our flight date! They had 6 pilots and 6 airplanes ready and waiting.
updated in 2019. originally published in 2012.