“The smile on these kids when we land is what it’s all about. It’s contagious and sticks around for both of us for a long time”
Broward County, FL – A thousand feet above Miramar Matthew H. (13) could see the field at Hard Rock stadium below. He was flying in a Piper airplane with a volunteer EAA pilot. Matthew loved aviation and had been counting down the days since his mother signed him up for the event at North Perry just a few weeks earlier. “The smile on these kids when we land is what it’s all about. It’s contagious and sticks around for both of us for a long time” says Rob Arkin, the pilot of this discovery flight.
Matthew was one of 33 youth that experienced flying over South Florida for the first time on Saturday, November 12. It was an EAA Young Eagles flight hosted by the North Perry Airport Community Association (NPACA.net). It is a collective effort on behalf of the EAA and local pilots to introduce youth to the opportunities available in aviation. They’re hoping to spark an interest that one day will become a career as an airline pilot, air traffic controller, or one of the many aviation related fields in South Florida. According to the Miami Beacon Council, one in four jobs in Miami-Dade is tied to Aviation directly. Miami International Airport is the largest employer in South Florida. Broward has one of the largest concentrations of pilots in the country. This is a fertile field for young people to find well paying local jobs.
On this Saturday morning Middle and High School aged youth were able to sign up for a completely free flight with a volunteer pilot. The young aviators got to fly in the front seat of an airplane with an experienced pilot right next to them. Many got to see their homes, the Dolphin’s Stadium and the beach from 1000 feet. Taking the controls of a small aircraft is an important “i can do it” moment.
Most of the youth were neighbors of North Perry Airport; living in Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, or Miramar. The North Perry Airport Community Association makes a point of reaching out to the families living around the airport. “There are folks right here in Pines Village that see the airplanes overhead, but have never been inside the airport. It’s very important to know who your neighbors are“ stated Randy Maginskal, Pines Village Group Inc President.
Along with the discovery flights there was an air expo featuring airlines and pilot associations, such as the Organization for Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) and the 99s, an all women’s pilot group originally founded by Amelia Earhart. These organizations provide many scholarship opportunities for youth to be able to enter exciting and well-paying career fields. Broward College, Embry Riddle, and South Florida’s newest aviation college Wayman Aviation were available to help guide students on how to join the industry.
The North Perry Airport Community Association hopes to keep these Young Eagles rallies happening every year to share the wonderful benefits of having the premier training airport in South Florida located right here in South Broward county.