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Kids fly for free

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Kyle Beguelin, 17, climbs into Mike Rhodes plane. Rhodes (center) built the plane himself. Richard Scott of the Experimental Aircraft Association watches.Kyle Beguelin, 17, climbs out of the little plane, beaming.

“He looks like he had fun,” his mother said.

Members of the family crowd around Beguelin to ask about the flight.

Beguelin has just had an aerial view of his house, his high school and his town thanks to Mike Rhodes and Richard Scott of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Each year the organization designates a day to give children free airplane rides as a part of the Young Eagles program.

This year’s fly day is happening Saturday, July 27.

But Beguelin was the lucky kid selected for a “publicity flight” on Thursday, July 18.

Beguelin tells his family how much fun he had, the rush of adrenaline taking off and landing and how Rhodes even let him take the controls.

“If the person we have wants to try flying, they get the opportunity to take the stick and turns and stuff,” Rhodes said.

Beguelin may not have considered being a pilot before the flight, but he’s thinking about it now.

Rhodes took Beguelin for a flight in a small, two-person plane he built himself.

He said the plane is built for cross-country flying. Rhodes recently returned from flying it around the Rocky Mountains.

Before he took Beguelin for a ride, the two circled the plane as Rhodes explained how it works.

Rhodes discovered his own love of flying in sixth grade, when he got to go for a similar airplane ride.

After that flight, he was in love with flying and decided to become a pilot in the Air Force.

But to be an Air Force pilot, one must be an officer, and to be an officer one must have a four-year college degree.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Mike Rhodes has been flying for 45 years.“So in the sixth grade I knew I was going to college,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes began taking flying lessons at the age of 15 and took his first solo flight at 16.

He got his pilot’s license when he turned 17, the youngest the law allows.

Rhodes ended up becoming a nuclear engineer, but he never stopped flying. He’s been recreationally flying for 45 years.

“If it hadn’t been for that airplane ride as a kid, I don’t know how much flying would be a part of my life,” he said.

Rhodes has built two airplanes, including the one he took Beguelin up in. He estimates that he’s flown more than 100 children for the Young Eagles program.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - If Rhodes werent such a smooth flier, this sign might have been more alarming.Despite a rather alarming plaque warning passengers that the plane is “amateur built,” up in the air it is easy to see why flying is so addictive.

Rhodes is a skilled pilot, and his passengers barely feel the take-off and landing. He’ll even tip the plane so that a newspaper photographer may get a better shot.

It’s not scary.

“You get it now?” he asks once airborne.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Estacada from the sky. Rhodes flew Beguelin over his house and high school.Yes. You do.

The Experimental Aircraft Association wants every kid to have the opportunity to “get it” too.

The Young Eagles program began in 1992, and since then has flown more than 1 million children.

Estacada will have its very own Young Eagles fly day Saturday, July 27.

The program is now full for the July 27 fly day.



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  • 18 Sep 2014

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  • 19 Sep 2014

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