Young Eagles program offers flights for kids

Pilot Sean D. Tucker with Kidsday reporter Gianna

Pilot Sean D. Tucker with Kidsday reporter Gianna Pellechia, 13, of Commack. She took a ride with him in his stunt plane over Long Island on May 21, 2014. (Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly)

Have you ever wondered what your neighbors look like from the sky? On Wednesday, I was able to be part of the Young Eagles program.

I met with Young Eagles chairman and pilot Sean D. Tucker, who took me on a flight about 3,000 feet in the air in one of the Oracle stunt planes. Sean is an aerobatic stunt pilot who performs in air shows worldwide. He will be flying this weekend at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach.

I flew in a Team Oracle plane. My flight experience was unbelievable because I'm only 13, but for a few minutes, Sean gave me full control of the plane. I lined up the wings with the horizon and turned the plane right and left. On one turn, we were almost on our side.

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I learned the parts of the plane and what they do. In the cockpit, there were only two controls and the throttle. We flew over parts of Long Island, including many towns, the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

My favorite was seeing the Fire Island Lighthouse. It looked a lot smaller than if you were standing next to it. As a real Young Eagle, you experience what pilots do in the air and on the ground.

Just before we took off, Sean and I talked about his exciting job. He told me he has done hundreds and hundreds of air shows, but even more, he and members of the Young Eagles program have flown with 1,800,000 kids.

He said that some of the Young Eagles have gone on to become astronauts, pilots and air traffic controllers. He added, "Number One, it's such an honor for me to have the privilege to fly airplanes. I define my whole life through aviation; it is who I am as a person, and to share the magic of flying with young kids -- to see the world through their eyes -- it's a blast. It's just fun."

I asked him what his favorite aerobatic stunt is to perform. He said, "I have so many favorite aerobatic stunts. I love doing the front lifts, I love doing the twirls. But for me, it's tied in altogether to where I'm looking for perfect moments."

I asked him what he thought about doing this job. "The best part about flying," Sean said, "is seeing the joy on their faces and then seeing the world through their eyes. I'm telling you, when we're going flying today, and you finally touch the controls of the airplane and you're in control, you're going to get a big smile on your face. You're going to go, 'Wow.' "

Sean is an amazing pilot. Come see him and Team Oracle this weekend at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach. You will watch him do many amazing aerobatic stunts. My journey as a Young Eagle will be an experience I will never forget.

Want to find out more about the Young Eagles program? Visit the website

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