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Open house at Concord airport to offer plane rides

If you think Concord Regional Airport is only for famous race car drivers or those with their own private jets, think again. If you have kids, they could be flying in and out of this local airport later this month - for free - as the airport presents its inaugural "Celebration of Flight" open house.

Through the generosity of member volunteers with the Experimental Aircraft Association, kids ages 8 through 17 can have this rare opportunity to go for a ride in a general aviation airplane as members of the EAA's Young Eagles program.

"Like myself, most pilots can quickly tell you about their first flight in a small airplane and the impact it made on their lives when a pilot shared their passion for aviation by giving us a ride in their own airplane," said Chuck Porter, 71, vice president and membership chairman of Charlotte EAA Chapter 309. Porter is also coordinator of the chapter's Young Eagles program.

Since 1992, more than 1.6 million Young Eagles have enjoyed a flight through the program. Young Eagles have been registered in more than 90 different countries and have been flown by more than 42,000 EAA volunteer pilots.

"Once in the air, you see the earth and sky in a new and exciting way and experience the wonderful freedom of flight that many people only dream about," said Porter. "After my first flight, I decided that becoming a pilot was one of my goals in life. I became a pilot in 1963 at the age of 23."

If you are considering signing your kids up, you probably have a lot of questions. For more information go to www.eaa309.blogspot.com. There you can find details about the free introductory airplane rides and important paperwork for parents.

"As the Charlotte Young Eagles coordinator, I have found that all of our Young Eagle pilots find great joy in sharing our passion for aviation," Porter said. "The children's smiles after their first flight always melts our hearts."

Porter also said no other opportunity of this magnitude is available for young prospective aviators. So if you have a child or teen who loves to be in the air more than on the ground, check out the EAA Young Eagles at www.youngeagles.org.

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