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Essay contest offers young flying enthusiasts chance at summer camp

Mary Hinds maryhinds@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Doug Eshelman loves aircraft, flying and everything to do with both. As president of Lebanon's Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 863 headquartered at the Lebanon Airport, he and his organization are looking for future pilots.

To seek out these potential top guns, his organization is offering a scholarship to the EAA Air Academy camp in June held in Oshkosh, Wis. The winner will also be reimbursed up to one half of the transportation expense.

"We are offering this opportunity to one 12-13-year-old student from Winfree Bryant and Walter J. Baird schools. The interested students will be asked to write a 400-500-word essay on why they are interested in aviation," said. "The deadline for submission is Feb 15."


The EAA is the largest aviation organization in the world with more than 150,000 members who love all things aircraft and are determined to pass that love along to young people. Besides the camp, to-date its members have flown in excess of 1.7 million children in Young Eagle flights.

"We own and build our own aircraft," Eshelman said. "I have multiple aircraft, and we have members who build ultra-light aircraft, classic aircraft, World War II planes - most fixed wing crafts, and some of our members have helicopters."

He said there could be a pilot shortage sometime in the future if young flyers are not encouraged today.

"Flying lessons are expensive and, in the bad economy, it's hard," Eshelman said.

The EAA opens up the sky for lots of local groups including Boy Scouts who can earn merit badges by learning about aircraft and going up in a plane.

Any local students age 12-13 can submit an essay to try for a spot at the camp. For more information about how to submit an entry, or groups who would like to get their young members involved with the Young Eagles flights, may call Eshelman at 615-400-3382, or email him at desh@comcast.net.

"We want to share our passion for aviation with young people," he said.

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