“Awesome!” The favored teenage adjective succinctly expressed how Nicholas Rodriguez, 7, enjoyed his first airborne trip on May 15.
Along with two newly made pals, Nicholas, a student at Country Walk’s Jack Gordon Elementary School, “buzzed” Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport during the Wings Over Miami Fly-In event on May 15. Pilot Leo Hunsicker, who hosted the trio in his Cessna 182, is one of several pilot members of the Tamiami Chapter of Experimental Aircraft Association (EEA) providing free rides to 82 youngsters and teens for six hours during the Fly-In event.
Others piloting their aircraft were Yale Mosk, Jeff Kaye, Elana Slotsky, Phil Slotsky, Bert Smith, Dave Wampole and Wilfred Pacquin. A crew of volunteers included Roy Schechter, Carlos Rosaly, Bill Bishop, Amber Petro, Aristides Madonado Jr. and Mark Ortiz, all active EEA members. As arranged by William Walker, president, and the Wings Over Miami Board of Directors, the day’s activities were designed to encourage more public interest and support of the historic museum of vintage aircraft at the airport.
Fly-ins by Florida pilots in self-owned aircraft provided another attraction but the chance to fly free brought a waiting crowd to take advantage of the rides from EEA members who regularly schedule “Young Eagle” flights at satellite airfields throughout the state. Tamiami Chapter 620 is headed by Mosk who flew his own open cockpit “Great Lakes” bi-plane and exhibited a 1969 Jaguar XKE and other classic cars, including a restored VW and Porsche 356.
Fellow pilots restore and fly vintage aircraft making them available for free flights “to keep young America’s eyes on the skies,” Mosk added. “We Keep the Fun in Flying” is the motto for the group that holds monthly barbecues and mans an emergency repair trailer at Sun N Fun fly-ins. Established at Homestead General Aviation Airport 20 years ago, the chapter continues its Young Eagles flights at that base.
The next chapter meeting will be at the Tiki Hut on the south side of Kendall- Tamiami Airport on Saturday, May 29, at 11 a.m., when the next Young Eagles event will be announced, Mosk said.
In addition to the EEA and Wings museum group, the Fly-In was aided by a host of Kendall volunteers that included the Sapere Group, a non-profit business volunteer organization; Kent Crook of West Kendall Business Association; Steve Schack, leader of the Tamiami Composite Civil Air Patrol, and Suzette Rice, its public information director. “Wings, like many other museums, has felt the downturn of an economic impact,” Rice said. “Events like this help stabilize the budget and allow strong community liaison, like that provided by three teens from local high schools and Miami Dade College who stayed until dark, helping move planes.”