Twenty-eight teens from the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach got a taste of a pilot's life Tuesday.
They flew in several Cessna and other small airplanes out of the Lyon Air Museum next to John Wayne Airport as part of the club's keystone leadership program.
"The kids have been really excited," said Carla Contreras, teen program director. "Some of them have never been to a museum like this before."
The group, a mix of sixth- to 11th-graders, went through a series of steps before their big moment in the air, with several of them getting a chance to act as co-pilots and steer the plane.
They attended an orientation, several presentations on airplanes including one on a B-17 bomber, built FPG-9 foam gliders, attended an airplane pre-flight inspection and even got their own flight log book, said Robert Baker, president of the EAA Chapter 92, a local nonprofit dedicated to aviation. Members of the group donated their time and airplane gas costs for Tuesday's event.
"It was a very rewarding experience," said 16-year-old Austin Willhoft, who added he wasn't nervous about the flight. "Just anxious. He [the pilot] said I flew the plane like 98% of the time."
Although it was a little rough at first, once they got up in the air it was a smooth ride, he said.
"I enjoyed it because I was with one of my best friends," said 13-year-old Alec Fritschman, who noted it was like the eighth time he had been up in the air like that because his dad is a pilot.
It was a first for his friend, 15-year-old Samuel Cortes.
"It was pretty fun," said Cortes, who got to co-pilot the plane. "It was like 'ahhh' trying to steer, but it was fun. I had no idea what it was like to be a pilot."