Youth take flight at Young Eagles Day

Published 7:04 am Monday, November 9, 2009

Austin 7-year-old Natalie Nemitz wanted to go on a plane ride Saturday, then she didn’t want to, then she changed her mind once more and decided to go through with it.

When her flight was finished, she called the experience ‘awesome’ before asking her dad a question.

“Can we go to McDonalds?” she asked.

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“We can do whatever you want,” her dad, William Nemitz, said.

Natalie was one of more than 70 youth who took part in the International Young Eagles Day Saturday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Austin Airport.

Members of the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association organized the day with five planes and free rides averaging between 15 to 20 minutes each.

“Basically it’s to expose people to aviation who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity,” said Ed Wells, secretary of Austin’s EAA. “And hopefully, we’ll have some young pilots. It’s good for everyone.”

International Young Eagles Day has been celebrated each June since 1994, with 1.3 million youth having flown throughout the world.

Saturday’s event had actually been planned for earlier in the year, but the weather didn’t hold up on two different attempts.

This past weekend — with mild temperatures — was a different story.

“We were very pleased,” Wells said. “We kind of threw it together on short notice, and it worked out well.”

Parents, such as Blooming Prairie’s Elizabeth Conklin, appreciated the effort.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for all these kids,” she said. “And it’s a gorgeous day to be doing this.”