Young Eagles event thrills Greenville area youngsters (Photo Gallery)

By Lonnie Allen • Last Updated 2:07 pm on Monday, June 18, 2012

Ethan Schmid 8, and Dalton Rice 7, of Belding, close the door of a plane that was being displayed by Northwestern Michigan College’s Director of Aviation Aaron Cook. — Daily News/Lonnie Smith

GREENVILLE — While boaters and campers where enjoying Wabasis Lake on Saturday, more than 110 children and 12 volunteer pilots enjoyed the same lake from an eagle’s view.

“We flew over Wabasis Lake,” said 12-year-old Gabriel Eastman of Belding.”

Parents from all over Michigan and beyond brought their children ages 8 through 17 to the annual Young Eagles “I Can Fly” event Saturday at Greenville Municipal Airport. The Experimental Aircraft Association started these events across America to give children who may dream of flying the experience for free.

When asked by their mother, Jenifer Senn, her two boys Karter, 10, and Clay, 8, both smiled and said the experience was good.

“I saw a lot of boats,” Karter said. “Oh my gosh, there was a lot of people there.”

The boys were telling their mom about how Wabasis Lake looked from the window of Greenville pilot Bob Allers’ Cessna 182, single engine aircraft.

“(Wabasis Lake) is bigger than I think it is,” Clay said. “The whole world looked like a little play-set too.”

It was Karter and Clay’s first time flying, but this plane ride was preparation for when Clay can go skydiving.

“That would be fun to skydive,” Clay said. “Next year I will fly again.”

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With headsets on and ready for flight, the conversation while in the air between pilot and children depended on their ages and if they fly over where they live.

“They can tell you about every tractor, every river, every house,” Allers said. “Some of the older kids want to know how the instruments work and what they do.”

Allers was one of 12 volunteers who gave children rides in his plane. The enthusiasm from the children during flight kept Allers smiling about flying his many passengers around the area.

“You know the kids feel like they can be up there forever,” he said. “I want to give those a chance at the experience of flying.”

The weather proved to be great for flying, but as the heat of the day began to build the rides got a little bumpier toward the end of the event.

“Most general aviation pilots, during hotter summer days, will take first time fliers up between the hours of 7 and 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m.,” said event director and pilot Kris Kropf.

Apparently as the day goes on when it is warm the heat radiates from the surface and that causes the turbulence. Though, the event was wrapped up before the extreme heat started and everyone involved with the event were satisfied with the whole event.

“It went real smooth and it was very safe today,” Kropf concluded. “The EAA (an aviation association) representative told me he was pleased with execution of today’s event.”

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