Young Eagles Rally introduces love of flying to kids

Wendy Arace, grandson Zeke Patrick Arace, and Pilot Gary Joseph. Photo by Sharon Huntley

N. CLARENDON, Vt. – Bluebird skies and warm temperatures combined for a perfect day for flying at the Young Eagles Rally at Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport Saturday, June 8.

The event was hosted by The Green Mountain Flyers, Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 968 as a way to introduce children ages 8-17 to the joys of flight. Each child, as well as interested adults, is taken on a free airplane ride lasting approximately 20 minutes.

According to Charlie North, EAA Chapter 968 president and event coordinator, Saturday’s event began with 20 children divided amongst six volunteer pilots and their aircraft to start the day. North expected total participation to reach 50 kids. Registration stretched from 9 a.m. to noon with pilots continuing to give flights until all registered kids had a chance to fly.

For second grader Zeke Patrick Arace, this was his first flight ever. He was taken under the wing of experienced pilot Gary Joseph who first walked Zeke and his grandmother Wendy Arace around his Cesna four-seat aircraft pointing out all the different features of the plane before settling Zeke into the co-pilot seat, where he was strapped in and fitted with his aviation headset. Zeke’s grandmother enjoyed the view from the backseat. Pilot Joseph, who is also the treasurer of EAA Chapter 968, has logged over 1,000 hours in his plane, and enjoys introducing the joys of flying to people of all ages.

Zeke Patrick Arace enjoying his first flight. Photo by Sharon Huntley

Once in the air, the plane buzzed over the verdant green rolling hills and homes of the countryside and continued over to Rutland, with Pico and Killington peaks in the distance. Joseph pointed out the instruments on his dashboard and explained what each dial was for, eventually allowing Zeke to steer from his co-pilot seat while instructing him on how to maneuver his control wheel, called a yoke.

Once back on the ground, Zeke confirmed that he had a great first flight. Joseph encouraged Zeke to continue with his love of math saying, “You’ll need to know a lot of math if you want to fly.”

Launched in 1992, the Young Eagles program has dedicated more than 25 years to giving youth ages 8-17 their first free ride in an airplane. EAA Chapter 968 has seven more Young Eagles Rallies planned this year. They also have several EAA Eagle Flights, which will provide the same opportunity for adults. For more information on the Young Eagles or Eagle flights at the Rutland Airport, visit or email

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