They say good things come to those who wait and the third time is a charm, but 2018 Vectren Dayton Air Show Young Eagles essay contest winner Kayla Hughes had to take it a few steps further this year.
The 14-year-old from Centerville won this year’s contest after two previous attempts, but her prize – a flight with world-class air show pilot Sean D. Tucker - was delayed due to poor weather in June, days before the Air Show.
Fortunately for Kayla, Tucker was in Piqua on Tuesday preparing for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Airventure show in Oshkosh, Wis. next week. And there was not a cloud in the sky.
After donning a parachute and getting a safety briefing, Hughes climbed in to a bright red Extra 300 aerobatic airplane with Tucker and set off for an introduction to the third dimension as Tucker likes to call it.
Twenty-five minutes later the plane rolled into the shade of the hangar and Tucker popped open the canopy.
“She’s a Young Eagle. She did great,” Tucker shouted as Hughes waved her hands at her family.
“It was so much fun. It was great,” Hughes said after climbing out of the plane. “At first, I felt a little bit odd because of the gravity and all the variations of it. I got to even do a couple of barrel rolls, I accidentally did two at one time. It was a nice thrill of excitement and terror, though mostly excitement.”
“Kayla is awesome,” Tucker said. “Right away she pulled 4-Gs and I’m teaching her how to roll the airplane. So, instead of doing one, she does two. She was thrilled. And more importantly she was joyful in living in the moment. This was also very much a great experience for me, because I get to see world through her eyes. So, I get to relive my first experiences as a pilot as well.”
The Young Eagles program was founded in 1992 by the Experimental Aircraft Association with the idea of introducing youth ages 8-17 to their first free ride in an airplane. Sean D. Tucker is currently chairman of the program which has flown more than 2.1-million young eagles since its inception.