Wingsfest entices kids to take flight

ROCK FALLS, Illinois -- At Whiteside County Airport, aspiring aviators got to spread their wings and try to see the world from a different perspective.

About 70 kids signed up for an airplane ride, but only early birds got to lift off as storms moved in Saturday morning. Among the lucky kids was 11-year-old Laura Azuela.

It was her third time in the air, she said. This time, she was in for a special experience. High over Sterling, she got to pilot the Piper Warrior II on her own - at least for a few minutes - under the supervision of the plane's owner and a volunteer pilot for the day.

"It felt like you just kinda have to tilt it the way you want it," Laura said. "It was kind of easy, just learning it was the tricky part."

"It felt amazing, knowing that I kinda had the control of the plane," she beamed.

Bob Thomas, Young Eagles Coordinator with Quad Cities chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Assocation said EAA Chapter 75 hosted this first ever Wingsfest to get more kids interested in aviation.

"We do need more pilots." he said.

The event also opened up the airport to members of the community.

"Over the past ten to twenty years, the airports have become off limits. They are kind of removed from the communities too much. And this is just an effort to get them back into the flow of the community," he said.

Laura said the visit definitely gave her a new perspective.

"Getting on a plane and flying, it’s just an amazing point of view," she said.

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