Experimental Aircraft Association sends seven students to Air Academy in Wisconsin

Ashton Williams poses alongside The Yankee Lady, a B-17G flying fortress from the World War II era, at the EAA Air Academy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Ashton Williams poses alongside The Yankee Lady, a B-17G flying fortress from the World War II era, at the EAA Air Academy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

by Tara Walker

Grand County students Ewan Gallagher, Dane Jensen, Sam Hoyhtya, Grayson Barker, Nick Forquer, Ashton Williams, and Alden Wilson received EAA camp scholarships which gave students an opportunity to attend the EAA Air Academy in Oshkosh Wisconsin this summer.

“This has been one of the best weeks of my life,” said camp attendee Dane Jensen. “We flew in a Cessna 172 and a Bell 47 helicopter. We built wing ribs, airfoils, rockets, did energy absorption experiments. We did a tour at the EAA museum, flight simulators, preflight checks, and even had the opportunity to sit in a P-51! The people I have met have inspired me to be a better person.”

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with over 200,000 members and nearly 1,000 chapters worldwide. EAA members are interested in aviation and share their passion and knowledge with others. Grand County’s EAA chapter 1267 began over 16 years ago and now has around 30 members attending meetings at the Granby Airport. Since its inception, EAA 1267 has given around $84,000 in scholarships and over 570 youth flights through the Young Eagle Program.

“This has changed my whole perspective on flight,” said camp attendee Nick Forquer. “Now when I think of flying, I think of the pure joy that you get when you are 4,000 feet up in a small aircraft and the exhilarating feeling when you are on the door side of a chopper. Thanks to EAA for giving me that.”

EAA Secretary Rick Howard explained that their focus from early on was to develop funds to assist youth in Grand County. Howard estimates that the local EAA chapter awarded around $12,000 in summer camp scholarships this year and $2,000 for aviation college scholarships for students in Grand County. Most of the funds come from their yearly summer pancake breakfast and fly-in at the Granby Airport. EAA is also selling hotdogs at Ace Hardware on Memorial Day weekend and the Alexander family is matching funds. The Grand Foundation awarded a grant for $1,600 to EAA this year, and the Real family donated funds to fund one student for a summer camp for this upcoming summer.

“We have over 80 plaques hanging on the wall at the Granby airport,” said EAA President Rick Howard. “Those plaques show the names of all the youth we’ve helped in Grand County. I see students that have attended camps or have received college scholarships. It’s an amazing sight to see. We hope to be able to help even more youth in Grand County.”

Shane Grayson is a parent of a camp attendee and expressed his thanks. ”There was no way Grayson could have gone without the support of the local EAA chapter because it is an expensive camp. We’re so thankful for the great opportunity.”

All students expressed their gratitude and enjoyment of the camp experience. “I really enjoyed learning, making new friends, and gaining more flight experience,” said Ashton Williams, who also attended the camp last year. Ewan Gallagher enjoyed flying and wants to be an aeronautical engineer. Sam Hoyhtya explained that this experience gave him a stepping stone into the aviation industry and a helping hand in the career he wants.

“Getting to fly a plane was cool,” said camp attendee Grayson Barker. “I liked building and hands-on activities. They put you into the situation and let you explore. I’ve always had an interest in planes and I was glad I did it. It ended up being better than I thought and I am so thankful.”

“We as a Chapter are very proud to have had the privilege of helping to send these Grand County students to an aviation summer camp, to further their interest in aviation as well as to instill a sense of adventure and exploration in their souls,” said EAA Members Donna Gore and Rick Howard. “Their excitement brings a smile to your face and joy to your heart!!”