Free Airline Flights for Kids at Madison County Airport

Rick Hunt (left), pilot and Chapter 9 member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, helps George Bernard of Upper Arlington check in at a young eagles rally at Madison County Airport. Bernard’s mother, Linda, is pictured at right. Hunt has offered more than 1,000 free rides to youth ages 8 to 17 as part of the Young Eagles Rally program. Bernard is now taking flying lessons at the Ohio State University Airport in Columbus and flew a plane solo at the age of 16. The next Young Eagles Rally is scheduled for June 26 at Madison County Airport.

(Posted on June 17, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Editor-in-Chief of Madison

Youngsters between the ages of 8 and 17 have the opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of London and the surrounding area during the Young Eagles Rally scheduled for June 26 at Madison County Airport.

Chapter 9 of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) offers free airplane flights. Pre-registration is available on The time slots are from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 11 a.m. to noon. Pedestrians are also welcome. A parent must be present to sign the documents.

Journeys typically take 15-20 minutes and run from London to Springfield to South Charleston before returning to London where planes fly over central London, the City of London Schools Campus and the grounds of the Farm Science Review before landing at the airport.

“During the flight, children can have the chance to manipulate the controls,” said Darren Schehl, president of EAA 9.

Founded in 1992, the Young Eagles program aims to give young people the chance to fly in a general aviation aircraft, educate them about careers in aviation and generally inspire them when it comes to from the world of aviation.

To date, EAA 9 has provided walks to 8,498 children. Across the country, EAA has transported more than 2 million young people. The entirely voluntary group is made up of professional and private pilots.

“One of our members has done over 1,200 trips himself and another has done 1,000,” said Schehl, who has been a licensed pilot since 1992. “One day I took the driver for a ride. 30 children. Of the 30, 20 had never taken off in any type of aircraft.

EAA 9 typically hosts six Young Eagles gatherings each year, two each at Madison County Airport and two each at Bolton Field and the Ohio State University Airport in Columbus. This year’s rallies at OSU Airport are on hold due to the university’s current policies regarding COVID-19.

The last time the chapter held a rally at the Madison County airport, they took five planes with them. Depending on the participation rate, they welcome one to three young people at a time. Following the June 26 event in London, the group’s next gathering is set for July 10 at Bolton Field.

Visit to learn more about EAA 9 and the Young Eagles program.

Madison County Airport is located at 1281 US Route 40, London.

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