Air show legend Sean D. Tucker flies Centerville teen winner of Dayton Air Show Young Eagles essay contest after weather causes flight delay until July

WATCH: What happens when a 14-year-old contest winner takes her first acrobatic flight with a world-class pilot

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. 

Dayton Air Show Young Eagles essay contest winner Kayla Hughes, 14, and legendary pilot Sean D. Tucker at the Piqua Airport. Hughes' originally scheduled flight was cancelled due to poor weather days before the Dayton Air Show in June but Tucker found a way to make it happen on Tuesday in Piqua. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

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. 

RELATED: These 5 times Dayton saw one-of-a-kind planes up close were truly special

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. 

RELATED: 5 reasons the new Memphis Belle exhibit is one of the most impressive at the Air Force Museum

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. 

Dayton Air Show Young Eagles essay contest winner Kayla Hughes, 14, waves from the front seat of an aerobatic airplane piloted by legendary pilot Sean D. Tucker in the skies over Miami County. Hughes originally scheduled flight was cancelled due to poor weather days before the Dayton Air Show in June but Tucker found a way to make it happen on Tuesday in Piqua. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

“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.” 

Dayton Air Show Young Eagles essay contest winner Kayla Hughes, 14, waves from the front seat of an aerobatic airplane piloted by legendary pilot Sean D. Tucker in the skies over Miami County. Hughes originally scheduled flight was cancelled due to poor weather days before the Dayton Air Show in June but Tucker found a way to make it happen on Tuesday in Piqua. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

“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.” 

RELATED:  Did you see the President’s plane? Why it was here.

Dayton Air Show Young Eagles essay contest winner Kayla Hughes, 14, center, with her family and legendary pilot Sean D. Tucker at the Piqua Airport. Hughes' originally scheduled flight was cancelled due to poor weather days before the Dayton Air Show in June but Tucker found a way to make it happen on Tuesday in Piqua. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

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.

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X