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By Heather Sawaski
MARSHFIELD (WAOW) -- As EAA leaders put the finishing touches on plans for this year's Air Venture in Oshkosh, a local chapter honors some young pilots on the fast track to getting their wings.
A group of young adults, some barely old enough to drive a car, are already taking aim at the sky. Michael Casey, a soon to be sophomore at the University of North Dakota, is studying Air Traffic Control.
"It's just like driving except a thousand times more fun," he joked.
Casey and fellow flyer Brady Guse were just awarded $500 Aviation Scholarships from the EAA Chapter 992 out of Marshfield. It's a program aimed at keeping kids interest in aviation flying high.
'The biggest problem is that the pilot population is declining at a very rapid pace," explained VP of EAA Chapter 992, Christopher Owens. "What we end up seeing is the pilots who are now your commercial carriers and things along that line are going to be retiring very soon. So it's our goal to make sure that young people maintain an interest in aviation so they can keep the bloodline flowing of all the pilots that are out there today."
The scholarships are especially important because aviation students have a lot of added expenses. They pay for things like flight time, fuel, and special licenses all out of pocket.
The aviation scholars are helping out at this year's Marshfield Municipal Airport Fly-In. Guse, an incoming freshman at UND, will study Commercial Aviation. He says the extra money will really come in handy.
"It's really important because this line of work can get pretty expensive," he said.
Tyler Stargerdt, a soon to be senior at Marshfield High, beat out hundreds of other applicants from across the country for a $7,500 national scholarship.
"I used it all for my private pilots license," Stargerdt said. "I got that 2 days after my birthday on June 4th."
These young pilots say every little bit helps when it comes to achieving their dreams above the clouds.
"It's just seeing the ground in a whole different dimension," Stargerdt explained. "When you drive, everything's flat. But when you get up there, everything looks different. Houses, landscapes, everything's just different."
The Marshfield Chapter of the EAA has several different programs aimed at keeping kids interested in aviation.
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