America’s Promise and DARE contest essay winners soared to the highest height on Saturday when members of the Experimental Aircraft Club in Great Bend took them on a 15-20 minutes airplane ride over Great Bend.
Nearly all of the children had smiles on their faces when they came running across the tarmac to tell their parents about their flight. For some, it was the first time they had flown.
The flights continued through most of the morning until the flights were cancelled due to high winds.
“It was awesome,” said Kayli Shull, who had never been in an airplane before. She and her mom were both a little nervous before she went up in the plane.
Eight pilots flew their small planes and paid for fuel so the approximately 50 children were introduced to aviation.
“I think is a good opportunity to expose youngsters to aviation,” said Bob Mead, Experimental Aircraft Club. “Some might find careers. The pilots get a kick out of doing it.”
All of the pilots are licensed and carry insurance.
“They’re very qualified pilots,” said Mead.
The America’s Promise students are chosen by school principals as third or fourth graders to have time with successful mentors and learn more about the community.
All fifth graders participate in DARE. Each fall and each spring, they complete an essay about what they have learned in DARE. The winners of the essay contest participated Saturday.
Pilot Gary Trimpe built his own airplane, which took about six years. “It let’s them know what there is in our society,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to fly.”