"I can't wait to do this again next year," is what pilot Cannon Hill hears often from children he takes up in his Cessna 182 Skylane.
Hill is one of about 15 pilots from the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla volunteering to participate in Kids Fly Free -- part of the Richland Fly-In from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 25 at the Richland Airport.
Members of the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 391 like Hill have been offering free flights to children once a year for the past decade, said Marjy Leggett, EAA Chapter 391 Young Eagles coordinator.
The free flights in general aviation aircraft are offered to children ages 8 to 17, she said.
The Richland Fly-In also will include a display of antique and experimental planes from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 25 and a pancake breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m.
Admission to the fly-in is free, and the breakfast, which is a fundraiser for the EAA Chapter 391, will cost $6 per person, said Clif Dyer, owner of Sundance Aviation.
The fly-in is sponsored by the Port of Benton, Sundance Aviation, EAA Chapter 391, J-U-B Engineers and Redline Automotive.
Dyer said they expect some unique aircraft to attend, including a T-6, a type of plane used for training during World War II. And a helicopter will be available for paid flights.
With Kids Fly Free, Hill can take three children at a time up in his plane, which is a four-seater. He said the majority of those he takes up get excited and want to have another opportunity to take to the skies in a small plane.
When sitting in the Cessna 182 Skylane, Hill said the children can see the controls he uses to direct the plane and communicate with air traffic control. And they have a view of the ground from the front and side windows, which isn't something they can get in larger, commercial airplanes.
Children will get a ground tour of an airplane before the free flight and will get a basic explanation of how a plane works, Hill said. Then when they get into the plane, they know what to expect.
Hill said the program is a good way to get kids interested in flying. His father was a pilot, and his uncle flew planes in World War II. That's how Hill got interested in flying himself.
Leggett said their goal is to get 250 kids up in the sky for 20-minute flights. That's how many pilots flew last year.
A parent or guardian must be present to sign a registration form and liability waiver.
Children who participate also can compete in a writing contest about their experience. Leggett said the essay is due within a week of the fly-in. The winner will receive a free first flight from a Sundance Aviation instructor.
Those ages 11 and older will get a log book with a code in it that will allow them to access online ground lessons donated by Sporty's Pilot Shop.
For more information, call Sundance Aviation at 946-2515.
*Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org