With a passion for aviation and an enthusiasm for community involvement, airline pilot John Cronin aims to reach local youth and draw awareness to this interesting sport.
John is President of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 839 at Pegasus Airpark in Saylorsburg, PA. The Chapter is a non-profit aviation organization within the National EAA. Since 1984, the Chapter has operated from a beautiful, rural stretch of a 2,700 foot long air strip.
John strives to get more youth involved and spread the word about aviation and the local Chapter. With 17 members, the youngest a high school senior, it’s possible there are a number of area school age children who already have an interest in aircraft and flying or may discover they do.
Two and a half years ago, John steered the Chapter with a different vision. Among many changes, he started a newsletter, promoted flying with area youth through the Young Eagles program, planned fun events, and joined the Chamber of Commerce. He now strives to educate the entire community about aviation. In addition to a monthly business meeting and a weekly restoration project, the members meet in the Stroudsburg library once a month for a movie night.
This spring, a new free program will allow youngsters to build an airplane. Through this initiative, John hopes more students will be made aware of aviation and have an interest in learning about it. On Mondays from 4:30 to 8 p.m., about 17 local children between the ages of 10 and 16 meet at the hangar with the goal of constructing a one-person Mini-Max EROS all-wood plane. “The program started in March,” explains John. “The kids are really excited. Initially, we started by teaching them tool safety, basic woodworking skills and other important essentials. Then we will start building the aircraft and we should be ready to start that in May.” The program also helps students learn teamwork, math, and reading plans. It’s helpful if the students have a passion for planes or at least a desire to learn more about them, because these projects are geared toward this specific field. The project is slated for completion in two years and then will be sold. The funds will be used to purchase another plane for kids to build.
In addition to the youth programs, Chapter 830 offers free half hour plane rides for students interested in aviation. There is also a similar program for adults 18 and over. John also reaches out to local school teachers and offers them rides so they get first-hand experience and can pass it on to their students.
Starting in April on the 2nd Sunday of every month, the EAA chapter will, once again, hold a Fly In/Drive In Barbecue. The barbecue allows aircraft enthusiasts to network with people who fly in from all over the region. “Last year, we had someone from Maine,” says Mr. Cronin. “We have seen planes do aerobatics in the sky,” he enthuses. “Some are classics/antiques and others are home-built airplanes. You name it, they’ve been here.”
The barbecue is held outside the small hangar and begins at noon. Fresh hamburger meat, natural wood charcoal, and even better camaraderie is what makes these gatherings an anticipated event for Chapter members as well as visitors. “Anyone is welcome,” says Mr. Cronin. Donations are appreciated since this helps the Chapter continue hosting events and programs. The barbecue runs through October.
On the second Wednesday of every month there is a business meeting in the small hangar, and every Wednesday night from 6:30 to 9 p.m. members work on a project. They’re currently restoring a 1940s Aeronca “Champ” and hope to have it completed this fall.
For information on the EAA Chapter 839, visit www.funatpegasus.com or call (570) 643-6499.
EAA Chapter 839
222 Hickory Lane, Saylorsburg, PA
By: Allison Mowatt