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Ashburn 4-H Club Goes Flying

On May 9 the Ashburn 4-H Club traveled to Purcellville for helicopter rides with the Young Eagles. The Young Eagles Program is an international program designed to introduce young people, ages 8 to 17, to the world of flying. The pilots are all flying enthusiasts who volunteer their time and aircraft to share this enthusiasm with young people. Who knows, maybe some of these youngsters will become pilots themselves one day. The Young Eagles Program has chapters in all 50 states and several foreign countries.

On May 9 we all drove to Mr. Smith's (also known as Jet Ranger George) house in Purcellville. First we signed in and then waited for our turn. Three children and one adult went on each flight with the pilot. Then when it was our turn we waited for a signal from the escort, and then got in the helicopter. Other volunteers helped us buckle into our seats and get our headsets on. When we took off we flew up and down, left and right, hovered, and even went backwards a little. Then we flew away and saw lots of houses, pools and farms. The rides lasted about 20 minutes and then we landed and other people went. Everything was very organized and kept moving right along.

Here are some quotes from Club members describing their experiences.

Jordan: "I felt like I was in an airplane with propellers and smaller."

Eilis: "It was so amazing because you got to see all different things and I saw a pool shaped like a guitar."

Connie: "It felt like I was gliding in the sky on a comfortable cloud."

Maddie: "It was phenomenal. I really enjoyed this experience. We went to the right, left, up and down. I'm pretty sure all of the people who went on the helicopter ride felt very lucky."

Jake: "When I was in the front seat of the helicopter I felt like a pilot."

Amber: "It was amazing. I felt like a bird. I am sure there is nothing like it."

Colin: "There are not many words to describe it. It was an amazing experience I will never forget."

There were many people involved in making this exciting day happen. All of them were volunteers sharing their time and experience with a group of young flying enthusiasts. First was Ed Levine, who made it all come together. Ed, along with Carrie Moats, came to our 4-H Club meeting in March and introduced the Young Eagles Program to us. You can't believe how surprised we all were when Ed said we could go for free helicopter rides. Ed also took care of organizing the event. George Smith along with his wife Merlyn opened up their home to us and allowed their back yard to become a landing pad. George and Andy Ozols piloted the helicopter throughout the day. The administrative crew of Ginny and Rich Largent kept everything in order and provided certificates for everyone. The boarding crew of Ray Comley, Gary Sgarrella, and Brooke Levine kept a bunch of nervous kids organized, and made us all feel safe and kind of relaxed.

Everyone, who took a ride, is now registered as a Young Eagle and has his or her name listed in the world's largest logbook.

For further information about the Young Eagles Program go to: www.jetrangergeorge.com or www.youngeagles.org. For further information about the Ashburn 4-H Club go to www.ashbur4h.org.

4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.