Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

April 2, 2013

160 mph at 2,500 feet

Young aviators show no fear of flying


Taxiing onto the runway, pilot Don McDonald informs passengers buckled into his Van’s RV-10 that he built the airplane by himself and previously knew zip about flying.

“Anyone want me to stop so you can get off?” McDonald said moments before takeoff. 

“No way,” they say, despite McDonald’s preflight request to grab one of the towels conveniently placed in the floorboard should a bout of queasiness erupt.

“My wife will kill me if I bring the plane back all messed up,” McDonald said.

McDonald’s fears prove unfounded; no one gets sick. Despite this being his first-ever flight, 8-year-old Ryan Hart of Cleburne parked in the copilot’s seat, displays the right stuff for a future stick and rudder man. The smile on his face as he glances toward his father, Greg Hart, in the four-seater’s back seat, shows he’s far from worried.

Hart joined several dozen children 7 to 17 Saturday morning at Cleburne Regional Airport for on-the-house flights courtesy of area pilots and the Experimental Aircraft Association Dalworth Chapter 24’s Young Eagles program. Saturday marked EAA’s inaugural Cleburne event.

“This is a great turnout,” said Michelle Daniel, Young Eagles coordinator. “We’re really happy with it. We’ve had about 150 kids who got to fly and more than 17 aircraft fly in. I really have to applaud the Brazos 983 chapter for helping us out and all the pilots who have been so magnanimous with donating their time and fuel.”

Takeoff and flight in a smaller plane is a lot noisier though not much rougher than riding in a regular passenger plane. At least it was Saturday which, a few clouds aside, turned out a perfect morning weather wise, conditions that had organizers breathing a sigh of relief after fears overnight thunderstorms might cancel the day’s fun.

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