The words were few and far between. But if body language spoke anything on the tarmac Saturday at New Braunfels Airport, it might have been contained awe and apprehension.
What does one say when he walks on the tarmac for the first time, steps into a two-seater, hears and sees a propeller up close, then puts on the headsets and feels the ground drop slowly away as he heads for the clouds?
A group of students got a chance Saturday to do something they have never done — fly.
As part of the Young Eagles program, students with Communities in Schools (CIS) and students with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program were matched up with pilots with the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) as part of the Young Eagles program at the New Braunfels Municipal Airport. The program gives students an overview of aviation as a possible career choice, and also allows students to fly in a small aircraft with an experienced pilot.
“Some of the pilots talk about how they became pilots and how they became interested in the field of aviation,” said David Ricker, director of operations and community partnerships, CIS South Central Texas.
“We probably do this about three to four times a year,” said Phillip Steele, secretary and vice president with EAA Chapter 958.
Shannon Dixon, branch coordinator of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of South Texas for Comal and Guadalupe counties, said the experience helped participants with development and confidence.
“So much happens in the way of development when we step outside of our comfort zones and try new things,” Dixon said. “So many of the students haven’t flown in a plane. They haven’t seen the mechanics of a plane. They haven’t walked on the tarmac before.”
“It was awesome,” said Zavien, 10, who was paired with big brother Mathew Dixon, Shannon’s husband. “We flew over my house ... The birds were below us.”
Zavien went up with pilot Steve Sewell in a Cessna 172.
Daniel Robles, 11, was all smiles has he prepared for his flight, even as his parents looked a tad nervous as they took photos and then walked behind the fence to watch the take-off. Robles rode with pilot Ron Vanbeek who built his RV-6A.
“We went around the river,” Robles said.