16-Year-Old Glider Pilot Gives First Young Eagles Ride

By Tom Baker, EAA 478180

EAA Chapter 1304 in Noble, Illinois, recently held a Young Eagles rally through a local middle school for the eighth grade class. My son Nick, EAA 780118, planned to help with the rally by doing glider flights, but that did not happen due to circumstances beyond our control. Nick was disappointed. He was looking forward to sharing aviation with others who were at the same place in life where he was three years ago. Our neighbor has a son who is of Young Eagles age, so I asked if he would be interested in doing a flight, and the resounding answer was yes.

Photo by Casey Fulk.

October 12 dawned bright and clear. It was the coldest morning of fall to date, with the first frost. Nick, 16, had been watching the weather. He had earned his private pilot glider certificate back in January, a day after his 16th birthday. The week before, Nick had promised a Young Eagles flight in a glider to our neighbor 12-year-old Dylan Fulk. Nick arrived early at Wabash Valley Soaring Association (WVSA) located at the Lawrenceville-Vincennes International Airport to make a flight for currency. When Dylan arrived and the forms were filled out and signed, Nick took him to the glider. Nick explained the controls and instruments before they boarded the glider. They were towed to 3,000 feet AGL, and the flight lasted about 18 minutes. Dylan enjoyed the flight enough to ask if he could go again. Nick of course obliged. 

Photo by Casey Fulk.

When you are 16 years old and have attended EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 17 times, you know you have aviation in your blood. Nick is one of those kids. He is a fourth-generation aircraft owner and third-generation pilot. When Nick found out that you could solo a glider at age 14 he started doing some research. He found out that the WVSA was a glider club at a neighboring airport. Nick joined the club and started training after completing his eighth grade school year. He soloed later that fall. Nick continued training and received his private pilot glider rating a day after his 16th birthday this past January. Later that day he soloed in the family Taylorcraft BC-12-65. He is working to complete his private pilot certificate when he turns 17 and is considering a career in aviation. Whatever his career path I think he will continue to share aviation with others.

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