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EAA Launches Eagle Flights Aviation Mentoring Program With Inaugural Flight at AirVenture 2012

Texas educator receives program's first flight from EAA President

July 24, 2012 - Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) President/CEO Rod Hightower today inaugurated the organization's new Eagle Flights program, designed to give adults an opportunity to achieve their aviation dreams, with a flight during the renowned EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in and convention.

Dr. Diane Thornton, a longtime Texas educator and school administrator who is now National Director of the "Learning for Life" program that oversees the Aviation Exploring program, was the first Eagle Flights participant as she flew in Hightower's personal T-6 military trainer. Thornton had flown with her father as a child, despite opposition from her mother, but had never pursued her own desire to learn to fly.

"Eagle Flights will allow us to introduce people to a great flying experience and to the world's greatest community of aviators in EAA," Hightower said. "EAA members are ready to grow participation in aviation by introducing friends, neighbors and relatives to flight and encouraging them to discover and follow their passion for flying."

Eagle Flights includes many concepts from EAA's Young Eagles program, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year after flying more than 1.7 million young people since 1992. As the Eagle Flights program is designed for adults, the focus will be on welcoming people into the aviation community in a more structured program.

Registration materials, structure, and additional insurance coverage are provided through EAA. Eagle Flights participants can be flown either in single flights or part of larger rallies typically hosted by EAA chapters.

Along with that individual outreach by EAA members, the Eagle Flights program also provides avenues for adults seeking to find mentors in their own hometowns or areas. EAA chapters will supply the resources to connect pilots with those who seek Eagle Flights and help direct potential aviators to local flight instructors as a next step.

"Flying has been in my blood since I was young," said Thornton after her flight. "I agreed to be the first to take an Eagle Flight because I want others to know it's never too late to pursue your dreams."

Additional Eagle Flights material will be available throughout the remainder of the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in at the Learn To Fly Center on the grounds, and then online for participants and pilots.

About EAA
EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world's most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA's 176,000 members and 1,000 local chapters enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to www.eaa.org. For continual news updates, connect with www.twitter.com/EAAupdate.

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