Sisters Get Tour of El Paso On A Plane Through Young Eagles Program

POSTED: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 8:39am

UPDATED: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 1:16pm

EL PASO- Yesterday we told you about a program that gives students the chance to fly on a private plane and get a tour of El Paso.

In part two of our story, we take you along as two sisters go on an adventure they'll never forget.  "When my dad first told me that we were going to come over here, I was so excited. I'm like, ‘No way. Am I really going to fly in a plane and control it?’," said Young Eagle participant Maggie.

Not only did 12-year-old Maggie get the chance to fly a plane with her little sister Sophia as her passenger, she flew a very rare plane. Alan and Patti Russell, who own the plane, are two of the volunteers with Young Eagles chapter 125.

"I’m the ground crew. I stay on the ground and help everybody in and make sure he doesn't run over anybody,” said Young Eagles volunteer Patti Russell.

“She’s my safety officer," said her husband, Alan Russell, a volunteer pilot.

First, Alan tells the girls about the aircraft and what they can expect during their flight.  "We only have one set of controls so once we're airborne we're going to move the controls over to your side so you can fly it," Alan told Maggie.

The girls help get the plane ready for takeoff and then they board. Maggie and her sister Sophia got to admire the scenery from 1200 feet in the air.  "I saw rivers, lakes, trees, a lot of houses," said Sophia.

And Maggie also had the chance to maneuver the plane.  "I thought it would be really hard. I thought I would crash the plane or something. I was so nervous," said Maggie.

But it wasn't long before her fear went away and looked forward to telling her classmates about her experience.  "I’m going to tell them that I flew a plane and I don't even know how to drive. I think flying a plane is easier because I always see my dad driving and it looks so hard," said Maggie.

"I was kind of proud because I never saw a little girl like my sister driving an airplane," said Sophia.

And once the two sisters landed they were handed their certificates making them official Young Eagles pilots.  "I felt like a real pilot. I felt like I was being graduated so I could be a professional," said Maggie.

And that's exactly why volunteers do this, to inspire children to aim for the sky.  "I like to see the girls get up because I’m a pilot. I like them to know that girls can do it too and have a great time and a profession," said Patti.

Volunteers pay for gas and other expenses, so there's no cost to participate. The Young Eagles are set to meet again sometime next month. We'll keep you posted. If you'd like for your child or school to participate, go to

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