- Associated Press - Sunday, August 17, 2014

PHILIPSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Donna Clark couldn’t believe her son, Derik, got out of bed without warning early Saturday morning.

Clark, of Winburne, said it usually takes at least a half-dozen tries to wake him up on the weekends.

But the 10-year-old airplane enthusiast was eager to check out the fourth annual fly-in at Mid-State Regional Airport, sponsored by Crosswinds.

The mission was to raise awareness about aviation and raise money for the organization that helps promote the airport, Crosswinds volunteer Mary Ann Williams said.

Pilots from around the state flew in for a breakfast, and members of the Experimental Aircraft Association- Clearfield Chapter flew in to give kids ages 8 to 17 free rides on their choppers.



The flights were part of the EAA’s Young Eagles program, which was established in 1992 to help recruit young pilots.

The fog in Clearfield prevented four planes from flying in on time, but that didn’t stop the rides once the fog settled.

Dave McCracken, of Clearfield, took Derik and other children on a ride in his Cessna 150.

It was the first time Derik had ever been on a plane.

“I did something like this when I was 10 and they had a similar program back then, and then been on an actual plane to get somewhere, but this is a first for him,” Clark said about her son. “We don’t live too far away, so this was something really fun for him to do.”

The West Branch Elementary School fifth-grader said he’s always been interested in learning the history of airplanes and aviation, especially from World Wars I and II, and that flying planes is something he’d like to pursue in the future.

McCracken said his plane is a general aviation airplane that was designed for flight training, touring and personal use.

He’s been flying since 1996. And with his flights comes hands-on experience for his young co-pilots.

McCracken said he allows them to help steer and gives them a short course on the functions of controls.

“You get some who are all for it and others who are a little hesitant, but they’re usually all smiles afterward,” McCracken said.

The pilots navigated their planes from the airport near Black Moshannon State Park to Philipsburg, and back, said Dave Glass, pilot and president of EAA-Clearfield.

“For most of these kids, it’s their first time flying,” Glass said. “They’re usually most interested in seeing their houses from the air.”

At the end of the flight, each child was given a certificate and logbook to document flights.

Crosswinds volunteer Shawn Kirk said the goal was to raise between $1,000 and $2,000. Money raised goes toward Crosswinds to help maintain the small, regional airport, which was built as an emergency-landing area during the Cold War. It’s rarely used, but is open for events during the summer, Glass said.

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Online: https://bit.ly/1m8GRok

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Information from: Centre Daily Times, https://www.centredaily.com

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