MANSFIELD — Heavenly McIe said the tops of the trees looked like a page from a coloring book from 2,500 feet in the air on Saturday.
The 15-year-old took her first flight at the Mansfield Lahm Airport Day on Saturday with her dad, Allen McIe, and an Avit Flight Academy pilot.
“I wanted to go higher, but it was still really pretty,” the Galion High School student said. “It wasn’t scary at all.”
Avit was offering paid adult plane rides and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) hosted more than 100 kids ages 8 to 17 for free plane rides at Saturday’s festivities.
Randy Broderick, EAA scholarship coordinator for chapter 148, said the organization capped registration at 100 kids, but some pilots stuck around after 8 p.m. to fly more youth.
“The pilots volunteer to do this,” he said. “They bring their planes and pay for their fuel.
“The idea is to inspire kids to pursue an aviation career or just learn more about it as a possible path. It’s a great career and a lot of kids are fascinated to learn that our office is our airplane.”
Broderick, who also serves as EAA Young Eagles coordinator and secretary of the Mansfield Aviation Club, said the Young Eagles program has provided more than 2.3 million free flights nationwide since it launched in 1992.
Terry Beachy’s four children joined that statistic with their first flights on Saturday.
“The highest they’ve been before is the carousel,” Beachy said with a laugh.
8-year-old Truth Beachy flew with her older brother Freedom and said the flight wasn’t as scary as she thought it would be. Justice Freedom, an Ashland High School student, said he is considering pilot school after graduation.
13-year-old Liberty Beachy, who flew on the same plane as Justice, said she almost fell asleep during the 15-minute flight.
“It was relaxing,” she said.
Mansfield Lahm Airport Day also included food trucks, inflatables, a car show and touch-a-truck event. Sky Elements also presented Airport Day’s first lighted drone show.
Abby Donofrio worked her first Airport Day after graduating flight school from Avit Flight Academy. She said the goal of Airport Day is to educate young people about the opportunities in aviation and give them a free experience of a potential job.
“The first flight I ever took a kid on was for a girl who was maybe 10 years old and she said the land below looked like a dollhouse,” the licensed pilot said. “I’ll never forget the smile on her face. She was so happy to go up in the sky.”
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