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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
By the year 2025, we'll need 400,000 new commercial pilots.
So why not introduce a love of flying to kids at an early age? That's what Chapter 71 of the Experimental Aircraft Association hopes to do Saturday at an open house and fly-in at Bakersfield Municipal Airport.
"This is all for kids. We want them to see airplanes," Don Walls, vice president of the local association, said Friday on "First Look with Scott Cox."
The public portion of the event takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the airport, 2000 South Union Ave. "This is, in essence, quite an event," Walls said.
In the past, Walls said, the day was simply a fly-in. But the chapter, in existence since 1959, decided to expand it to generate more interest.
In short, "we have a declining pilot population," said Walls, who's been flying for 60 years and started working at an airport at age 12 on weekends.
Why? It used to be that kids would ride their bike up to an airpark, see a plane up close and talk to a pilot. Now, "we are competing with a lot of other interests kids have," Walls said.
Cost matters too -- a gallon of fuel runs $6.50 right now.
So since 1992, the Young Eagles project has supported introducing more youth to flight. Walls said 64 kids will fly on Saturday.
People who attend the open house will see both general aviation and experimental aircraft. There will also be a car show, and local organizations will have booths, including the Bakersfield Police Department with its child identification unit.