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Young Aviators is a scheme to provide young people with a motivational aviation experience culminating in a flight in a light aircraft. Started as the Young Eagles initiative by the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) in the USA, the UK version is Young Aviators which is run under the auspices of the Popular flying Association.

Well the smiles on the Young Aviators faces said it all – with ear to ear grins and lots of them still on cloud nine, even as they were walking back from their individual mounts, full of awe, questions and wonderful memories of a truly wonderful day.

We were blessed with excellent weather conditions on the day and as well as those who had reserved a place to take part, we also managed to cope with some last minute arrivals, as well as a couple who just happened to be at Sywell on the day and who were fortunate to be able to take part as well.

All in all it was an amazing day. So what were the statistics for the day? 


A total of 15 pilots in 13 aircraft, gave their time and fuel for free to fly the Young Aviators and we flew 67 Young Aviators and 13 adults on some 82 flights, which varied in duration from 30 to 45 minutes, due to a very busy circuit at Sywell, as in addition to our Young Aviator flights, there were also the normal flight training activities, micro-light flying, pleasure flights in a Tiger Moth, a Beagle Pup fly-in, helicopters and a really nice surprise – a Hurricane (LKA/G-HURR), P-51 (472773/G-CDHI) and Buchon (1 RED/G-BWUE) landing and flying in and out.


The latter three were based for the week-end from Breighton, Yorks, to do various displays around the area that week-end.  Sywell ATC were very busy and handling at one stage 520 movements in 540 minutes, which for a few short hours actually meant that Sywell Aerodrome was busier than Heathrow airport!!!

The Young Aviators and all others who flew, were all processed first by registering on the day and handing in their parental consent forms, after which they were given a sequence number to fly, along with a 23 page Young Aviators booklet, which apart from safety information, also had sections about Sywell Aerodrome, its history, resident operators, a little about the hard runway application, and then some basics about flying, an aircraft and its main constituent parts, as well as careers in aviation, a Word Square, a Quiz, the Airman’s Alphabet and Marshalling signals.

They then proceeded on to their safety briefing where Fred Thomas did a sterling job in running back to back briefings for groups of 10-15 at a time, until all had been briefed.

Following this, a hangar tour was also available, before they headed out to departure control, where they were then assigned to individual pilots as and when they became available. they then were shown the walk around checks the pilots carried out before being strapped into their seats for in most cases their first flight in a light aircraft and for a lucky few their very first flight ever.

The smiles as they walked back from their flights was precious to see, and following sign-in, on their return landside, they were given a great big goodie bag crammed with magazines, sunglasses, hats, wallets, pens, and lots of information about Sywell Aerodrome, PFA To-day magazine, MKAS newsletter, a questionnaire, and information about careers in aviation, to name just a very few. Finally the Young Aviators cakes were cut and all tucked in to crown what for everyone was a superb day.

There was also a micro-light to look at close up and to sit in for any photographs – we did aim to have a light aircraft for this, but none was spare on the day. Many thanks to Frank Hodgson for providing his micro-light and for answering all those questions. The excellent Sywell Museum was open for everyone to visit, and unfortunately their Vampire cockpit was not available for everyone to climb into, due to health & safety reasons as the canopy was not secure!!!.  Everyone was also able to partake of the excellent food and drink that was served in the Aviator Hotel’s bar and restaurant, which was well populated throughout the day.

This event would not have taken place without the help of many, many people, and I would like to thank the following very long list;

Peter Chamberlain of MKAS for taking on all the activities to do with getting pilots to participate, checking documentation, briefing, and departure control on the day and for also getting many of the freebies for the goodie bags amongst many of the hats he wore both before and during the event.

Alan Jackson, Sywell Strut co-ordinator, who with the Fenland Strut’s David Thomas contributed a large number of pilots and aircraft.

Jeff Bell (AFISU Manager Sywell), our single point of contact at Sywell, without whom and with the blessing of Sywell Aerodrome owner, Michael Bletsoe-Brown (Managing Director, Sywell Aerodrome) the event would not have taken place.

Alistair Rivers, who handled all the press side of things for the event, and though none of the press turned up on the day, we were mentioned on Northampton local radio a few times, and we also got mentioned on the BBC web-site;

The Pilots – Murray Flint, David Beale, Yaakov Marom, Joe Irwin, David Thomas, Frederick Brown, Alan Gray, Chris Palfreyman, Peter Sawyer, Richard Pidcock, Steve Luck, Andy Duke, Kevin Brown, Edmund Comber and Alan Jackson.

The many others who helped in the background and who also contributed to the event –

Kathy Putman, Gareth Agett (CFI, Brooklands Flying Club), Claire Brown and all the girls in reception, the bar staff in the Aviator Hotel, James in Brooklands Flying Club, Catherine in Flylight, The Popular Flying Association, especially CEO Graham Newby and Penny Sharpe, the MKAS Committee for helping with some of the costs, Chris Shaw, Stuart Luck, Colin Hastings, Neil Broughton, Barton Fish & Chips, Dave Gent (Ramsey Manor Lower FC), Tanwa Idris (Learning and Development Officer, Royal Aeronautical Society – Stuart Smith Managing Director, Dunlop Aircraft Tyres (, Signature Flight Support Luton Airport, British Gliding Association (, British Parachute Association (, British Model Flying Association (, Kirsty Saville (Diamond Aircraft UK Ltd –, Neil Armstrong (Cabair Flying Schools –, Colin Mackenzie and the Air Cadets (, the Sywell Aviation Museum, Steve Slater ( A big Thank You to Jeanette Hutchins for getting the first cake specially decorated for the Young Aviators day and also for donating the second cake (they were delicious).

Finally last BUT DEFINATELY NOT LEAST thank you to the many willing helpers on the day, who helped the event itself run so smoothly – Fred Thomas, Denise Faehndrich, Catherine Jackson, Cathy Osborn, Russell Osborn, Andy Cornwell, Hugh Davies, Ben Burt, Dougal Berry, Jacob Hirson, Jack Trusler, Roger Syratt, Joan Syratt, Brian O’Neill (our official photographer), Richard Lambert, and a Big Thank You also to Mother Nature for being so good to us with the weather.

We did get some feed-back from our questionnaire’s and I would like to thank MKAS member Anthony Mills for his long letter on the event, Elliott Viola, Richard & Edward Hughes and Alexander, John & Joshua Burnett for all their thanks and comments.

We will take all these comments on board and then use to them to improve our involvement in any future Young Aviators events. However I must say, considering this was our very first such event, and yes we did have some teething problems, it did go very well and I know many of the pilots expressed the opinion that this was the best Young Aviators event they had ever taken part in, which I think is high praise indeed.

Thank You Everyone for a terrific team effort.

For more Young Aviators Events, please click below:

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