The local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association was founded in 1972 by pilots interested in building their own airplanes. It also offers pilots and aviation enthusiasts the opportunity to form relationships and encourages sharing of information and stories. You don't have to be a pilot or aircraft owner to be a member.
Members Merry Romine and Mike Reynolds coordinate the local EAA's Young Eagles program, which fosters interest in flying among children ages 8 to 17. About 10 local pilots and dozens of children are involved in the program at any given time.
Romine works as a substitute teacher and Reynolds is a former military test pilot and sport pilot instructor on staff at Western Nevada Community College.
Activities include taking children on 30-minute air trips so they know what it's like to fly in a smaller, noncommercial aircraft. The flights occur a few times each year from the Carson City Airport. The next ones will be at 9 a.m. Saturday. Families interested need to contact Romine at 849-7959 for an application - and do so quickly - to participate in this next day of flights.
Why do you like to fly?
Romine: It's like the Jimmy Buffett song "Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude." When you see things from 1,000 feet above the ground, you have new perspectives and vistas - even as a passenger.
Reynolds: I'm an adrenaline junkie. There's nothing better for a shot of adrenaline. I've flown more than 8,500 hours, but every time I push that throttle forward I get that feeling. Your problems go away, you're on top of the world.
Do you have to join the military to learn to fly?
Reynolds: No, though I learned it in the Army. Most pilots do not go on to be military or commercial pilots. Nine out of 10 do not.
What are some aviation-based careers?
Romine: Astronauts, commercial pilots, people who fly freight, mail and people from place to place. Air-traffic controllers, airport management, flight instructors, aeronautics educators.
Reynolds: Aviation is part of aerospace, but aviation knowledge is what you need first. Everyone should have a job that makes you ask yourself, "I get paid to do this?"
What are some misconceptions about flying?
Reynolds: That it's overly dangerous.
Romine: Genius isn't required to fly an aircraft. Just attention to detail and commitment.
What is an experimental aircraft?
Reynolds: One built by an individual craftsman instead of on a factory assembly line. They are certified before a pilot can take off in it.
Why does the EAA want more people to fly aircraft?
Reynolds: The EAA is very interested in keeping general aviation alive. There's always people who don't like airports. And general aviation took a hit because of 9/11. The number of pilots is decreasing. Baby boomers are aging and no longer wanting to pilot. More people want to fly, and someone has to take them.
How safe is flying?
Reynolds: There are a lot of things less safe that people do every day without thinking about the risks. More people are killed snowboarding or skiing, or in car accidents, than flying. Pilots are well-trained. In your car, you're probably going to pass someone driving while on meth. It's harder to get a plane off the ground if you're drunk or high than it is to get a car moving.
Will the children get to ride in any experimental aircraft?
Romine: Maybe. It depends which aircraft the pilots have available that day. EAA members have all types of noncommercial aircraft. Even some jets.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.