Young Eagles is a program created by the US Experimental Aircraft Association designed to give children between the ages of 8 to 17 an opportunity to experience flight in a general aviation airplane while educating children about aviation. This program is offered free of charge with donations and volunteers. The program was launched in 1992 and, by fall of 2009, has flown more than 1.5 million children in 90 countries. The program’s presenting sponsor is Phillips 66.
In 1991, a survey of long-time EAA members was conducted to help determine the organization’s future priorities. Nearly 92 percent said EAA’s primary objective should be to involve more young people in aviation. The survey also showed that a flight experience inspired respondents toward aviation. On May 13, 1992, following several months of coordination by members of the EAA Board of Directors, EAA management, staff and volunteers, EAA’s Young Eagles Program was unveiled at a Washington, D.C., news conference.
The mission of the EAA Young Eagles Program is to provide a meaningful flight experience – free of charge – in a general aviation aircraft for young people (primarily between the ages of 8 and 17). Flights are provided by EAA members world wide.
The initial goal of the program was to fly one million children prior to the 100th anniversary of flight celebration (Dec. 17, 2003). That goal was achieved on November 13, 2003. An on-going annual goal of introducing 100,000 young people to the Young Eagles experience has been established.
In March 2011 EAA reported the results of a study on the program that showed that program participants are 5.4 times more likely to become a pilot than those who never participated and that 9% of those new pilots are female, an increase of 50% compared to the general population of pilots, which is 6% female. The study also indicated that the older a child is when taking their flight that it is the more likely that child will become a pilot, with two out of every 100 participants who are 17 years old continuing to complete a pilot certificate. The program is administered by the Young Eagles Office at EAA headquarters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.