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Former Young Eagle Receives Flights of a Lifetime


Tyler Stargardt and Ron Fagen
Tyler Stargardt and Evan Fagen after their flight in the P-51 Sweet Revenge.

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October 4, 2012 - A flight package offered for auction at the Gathering of Eagles held at EAA AirVenture 2011 became a weekend to remember for pilot and former Young Eagle Tyler Stargardt, of Marshfield, Wisconsin, at the grand opening weekend for the Fagen Fighters World War II Museum in Granite Falls, Minnesota.

EAA Lifetime Member Bill Bachschmidt, of Inglis, Florida, was the high bidder in 2011, but he chose to donate the prize back to EAA.

That ultimately resulted in Stargardt getting flights in the museum's PT-26, BT-13, and T-6 - topped off with a flight in the P-51 Mustang Sweet Revenge. Jeff Skiles, EAA vice president of chapters and youth programs, and Brian O'Lena, manager of Young Eagles and Youth Pathways, hopped 60 miles to Marshfield on Friday, picked up Stargardt, and headed to Granite Falls.

Stargardt, 19, of Marshfield, Wisconsin, was chosen as recipient of the flights because of his hard work and dedication to flying. He completed the Sporty's online course after his Young Eagles flight then earned his private certificate just days after his 17th birthday. Earlier this year, Tyler earned his instrument rating, and recently passed his commercial written exam. After college he wants to fly for a living.

The trio was greeted by Ron Fagen, whose collection of World War II aircraft and artifacts are the basis for the museum. Fagen, his wife, Dianne, and sons, Evan and Aaron, have created a wonderful museum stocked with flyable aircraft and impressive WWII memorabilia, including a Ford GP (Jeep) used by Gen. Omar Bradley during the D-Day invasion, an M3 halftrack Troop Carrier (M16 version), an M35A2 (deuce and a half) cargo truck, a Harley Davidson WLA, and a Cushman Scooter Model 54. The museum's signature display is a tribute to Ron's father, Ray, depicting Ray and his comrades exiting a landing craft onto Utah Beach.

Shortly after arriving and a brief tour, Stargardt received some training materials on each aircraft for review. By mid-afternoon he and pilot Evan Fagen had performed a preflight on the PT26 and took off for the first flight of the day. Then came the BT-13, followed by the T-6. Stargardt was more than a passenger - he was able to take the control and fly these incredible airplanes.

Then, after an incredible ride in Sweet Revenge, Evan Fagen took him up in his Extra 300. The appreciation and gratitude was evident not only in Tyler's words but in his never-ending smile, he knew how lucky he was, he knew what he had just experienced was one of the most exciting opportunities an aviator could ever have.

"Ron and the Fagen family and Bill Bachschmidt really get it; they know that you need to get people excited about aviation," O'Lena said. "The Fagen Fighter WWII Museum is a great place to learn about aviation history, but it's also an exciting place to experience the fun of flying."

Just ask Tyler Stargardt.


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