by Ron Alexander, VAA 27150
Editor’s Note: Thanks to Randy Epstein Chapter 690 President for his assistance with this article.
I am privileged to have been associated with EAA Chapter 690 for many years. This very active chapter is located in Lawrenceville, Georgia, just to the northeast of Atlanta. The chapter celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.
It is one of the most dynamic EAA chapters in the country. Chapter 690 is one of the largest in the nation with over 250 members currently. A pancake breakfast takes place on the first Saturday of every month and includes a program following the fellowship and eating. A business meeting and program take place on the second Friday of each month.
In 1995 the chapter secured a land lease from the local county and undertook a project to build eight 50×60 hangars. Seven of those hangars were built and funded by individual chapter members and the eighth was built to house the chapter. Over the years additions and improvements were made including a full kitchen for the chapter’s many social activities.
Chapter 690 is quite proud of its involvement in the EAA Young Eagles program. A Young Eagle rally is conducted on the third Saturday of every month where volunteers will fly anywhere from 20 – 80 Young Eagles.
The program has a great many return Young Eagles that are slowly filling their logbooks with flights. It boasts at least two pilots that were once Young Eagles themselves and returned to fly Young Eagles.
Encouraging youth involvement is a big goal of the chapter. Four years ago the chapter started a summer camp for youth 12 -18 years old. The camp has grown to include three levels of activities.
An Alpha level camp is designed for first time camper ages 12-13. Some ideas of the types of activities that Alpha Campers will be involved in are:
- RC & Paper Models
- Wooden Wing Ribs
- Tool Box Building
- Principle of Flight
- Airport Tours
The Bravo camp is designed for campers ages 14-15 who have completed the Alpha camp. Bravo Level Campers are involved in activities such as:
- Propeller Carving
- Advanced RC & Paper Models
- Aileron Kit Build
- Air Traffic Control
- Composite Methods
- Applied Technology
The Charlie level camp involves ages 16 – 18 year olds and is comprised wholly of ground school and flight training with each attendee logging four hours of dual instruction during the week.
The camp is conducted completely by volunteers and has seen great attendance since its inception.
The chapter has watched the growth of the youth program at Candler Field Museum and is currently working on developing a similar program. Early this year they started a program for youth ages 14 and up meeting once a month and it is currently focused on ground school. The chapter also has a very nice simulator donated by one of its members and looks forward to using it as a part of the youth program.
They recently obtained a couple of projects that they are intending to use as a part of the youth program to introduce them to the world of aircraft construction. They are currently organizing the mentor group that will lead the youth in this part of the program going forward. The goal is to have several time periods available each week for mentors and youth to work on the projects.
They have seen their youth eagerly volunteer when a vintage airplane is in town for rides. Earlier in the year the chapter hosted one of the EAA Ford Tri-Motors and one of their youth got his first logbook entry ever as dual in the Tri-Motor, something he’ll remember forever.
The chapter also has a scholarship program and has provided scholarships through the years to assist young folks with their flight training expenses as well as sending younger people to Oshkosh to attend the Air Academy. This year alone they have sent two youth to the Air Academy and have provided scholarships for two others to advance their flight training.
Chapter 690 members also have some unique vintage aircraft. Two of the most notable of these airplanes are both Aeronca Chiefs. Both have been recently restored and one of them has a very interesting history of being used by the Civil Air Patrol during WWII.
As a chapter, they are pleased to have the resources to get youth interested in aviation as well as move them forward with their aviation aspirations. Their hope is to continue to grow these programs and someday rival what has been accomplished at Candler Field Museum.