Flying Young Eagles

The EAA Young Eagles program introduces youth to aviation by offering free first-flight opportunities. Volunteer pilots at Gnoss Field donate their time and airplanes to provide this experience for youth between the ages of 8 to 17. The Young Eagles program that has flown over 2 million young people.

These programs are scheduled on occasional Saturdays between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm at Gnoss Field. Registration is required. And local youth organizations often work with us to ensure we have sufficient pilots to fly the youth interested in signing up.

Information for Participating Young Eagles (Youth 8-17 years old)

Next Young Eagles event is Saturday May 20. Registration is complete and full.

Registration is required. A confirmation email will be sent so each Young Eagle has the information necessary to have a fun and safe flight.

Time slots are on the hour at 10am, 11am and noon. Flights should be completed by 1pm to ensure smooth flights avoiding the build-up of crosswinds and turbulence typical of Gnoss Field.

Parking is available at the far end of Airport Road in the parking lot beyond the flag pole. Use 451 Airport Road, Novato, CA, in your GPS navigator. Look for directional signs posted. Enter the airport ramp area through one of the pedestrian gates.

First step is to sign in at the registration table. Please complete any necessary paperwork with contact information and the signed liability waiver. When a Young Eagle is assigned to a pilot for your flight, your name will be called and announced on the speaker, then escorted to the airplane. Upon completion of the flight, pictures are possible (caution, as the smiles are infectious). However, escorts are required to walk out to the ramp due to the dangers of moving aircraft with operating propellors.

Parents or Other Adults Welcome

Parents or other adults are welcome to observe, especially listening to the radio calls from the observation deck above the administration building. After the flight, you may request an escort to go out to meet the pilot at the airplane and take photographs.

Young Eagle Logbooks

As a memento of the Young Eagle flight, each flight can be logged with the signature of the volunteer pilot. EAA provides each Young Eagle with a logbook that also provides information about enrolling in the donated ground school from Sporty’s Pilot Shop on behalf of EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association).

Typical Points of Interest for a Young Eagles Flight

Gnoss Field is located in a scenic part of the northern San Francisco Bay Area. Here are some of the points of interest for a typical flight:

  • Ramp area, a large open paved area, where planes are positioned to begin and later end their flights.
  • Runway 13-31 where planes depart and land. Runway 13 points south and Runway 31 points north.
  • KCBS radio towers, which are 520 feet high so your flight will climb and maneuver to avoid them!
  • Petaluma River, which has a tidal flow from the San Francisco Bay
  • Sears Point Sonoma Raceway
  • Mouth of the Petaluma River
  • Bel Marin Keys, a neighborhood with lots of water access for boats
  • Hamilton Field, that is undergoing a wetland restoration project
  • Ignacio Valley with views of the College of Marin or Lucas Valley behind Big Rock peak
  • Stafford Lake, a recreation area west of Novato
  • Mount Burdell, the highest peak nearest to Gnoss Field
  • Highway 101, so you can play traffic reporter if there are lots of cars and trucks
  • Redwood Landfill
  • Returning to Gnoss Field and landing on the runway

Information for Volunteers – Pilots and Ground Volunteers [Ken Mercer]

We’re looking forward to a great day (morning, actually) of flying Young Eagles. We’ll have a short briefing on the ramp on Saturday morning starting at 9:30 and we’ll begin flying right at 10:00. Pilots: please have your plane pre-flighted, headsets and cushions ready, and parked as per the diagram below by 9:15.

The registered youth are spaced out fairly equally with start times thanks to EAA’s new online registration system.

We’re fortunate to be joined by several new pilots to our group, and by several new ground volunteers. Here are just some of the details we’ll review at the briefing so you can get familiar or refresh your memory of how the day will go, starting with a diagram of the setup

Diagram of a Young Eagles event at Gnoss Field

Young Eagles layout for typical operation, with general attendee area with parking and gate access, information/registration table, and airplanes on the ramp along the taxi lane,

Although you can’t really tell from this image, the line on which we park airplanes is just off the actual centerline of that taxi lane (between the rows of hangars, which will allow you easier movement when taxiing in and out of the loading area. Note that we want pilots to park their planes at an angle to facilitate this even more. We will have marshals to direct you in and out of the area, and let you know when it’s clear for you to start up and taxi. 

NO HOT LOADING! Engines must be shut down prior to loading or unloading Young Eagles!

We’ll have a bunch of Young Eagles planes along with the normal traffic going in and out of the airport area, so be vigilant and communicate. Rick Beach has been kind enough to create the guidelines and information below. I’ll just add that we’ll be flying repeated trips over our neighbors in Novato and northern San Rafael, so be as kind as possible with lower RPMs, varying your actual track over the ground somewhat, and observing the suggested altitudes.

Pilot & Ground Volunteer Safety Briefing [Ernie Ganas]

Pick up your Young Eagle(s) from Administrative Desk and bring them to your aircraft.

Provide them with your safety briefing, including use of the seat belt, “Sterile Cockpit Rule” when approaching airport & downwind to base leg, door operation, and any other safety features of the aircraft.. I tell passengers to stop talking when I raise my right hand. You set your own “Sterile Cockpit Rule”

  • Take the time to describe what you doing when you do your preflight checklist items, especially for the older/interested Young Eagles. Please be concise and avoid turning this into a tutorial. We have increased the number of Young Eagles flying with us so being prompt will help get everyone in the air.
  • Take a good look around your plane and do not forget to call “CLEAR PROP” before you start your engines.
  • Look for an Aircraft Marshal prior to moving, then signal you are ready to move by turning on you landing light.
  • Aircraft Marshal will clear taxi area and signal you to move forward and turn to taxiway.
  • After your flight when returning, look for an Aircraft Marshal who will stand where they want you with both hands raised. Normally you will position yourself on the marshal. In the event the marshal needs to actually direct you, the marshal will use the standard motions where they point to the landing gear that they want brake applied to turn you in the desired direction. For example, pointing at pax/co-pilots landing gear requires brake on the pax/co-pilots landing gear which would turn the aircraft to the right
  • When you return and shut down, marshal’s will escort adults out to the aircraft for a photo opportunity with the Young Eagles at your aircraft
  • After you shut down, photo opportunity done, take your Young Eagle to Administrative Desk and sign their EAA logbook
  • Pick up your next Young Eagle(s) at the administrative desk
  • Please watch the Aircraft Marshal, as we may have to park you differently than you thought because of ground handling reasons. Manual ground handling might be necessary after you stop your engine, USE CAUTION.


Gnoss Field Flight Routes for Young Eagles Events [Rick Beach]

We have experimented and found the following information helpful to coordinate multiple aircraft flying for a Young Eagles event. Due to nearby terrain, overflying neighbors homes, and congestion upon returning to Gnoss Field, we need some operational guidelines.

These procedures separate traffic by speed and altitude, resulting in a 20-30 minute flight with your Young Eagles. Since we do not have a control tower to help coordinate operations, please do your best to follow these guidelines.

You can review and print the proposed procedures then make notes for your flight. Or you can import the information into ForeFlight and use an iPad or iPhone to navigate the proposed procedures. The waypoints are intended as “fly by” and not “fly over” points. Feel free to use your autopilot HDG and ALT modes to maintain level flight while maneuvering along the flight path.

If you encounter difficulties, contact me and I’ll provide Beach Tech Support! 😉

Routes & Altitudes for Young Eagle Flights

Two routes for Young Eagles flights, one lower and slower at 2500’ MSL flown at 90 knots, (magenta), one higher and slower at 3500’ MSL flown at 100+ knots (cyan). Each route will take about 20-30 minutes at those speeds. Note green pins are recommended reporting points.

With a large contingent of Young Eagles, please fly these routes depending on your airspeed: slower planes at 2500 feet at 90 knots inside the ridgeline along Ignacio Boulevard, faster planes at 3500 feet at 100 knots over Marinwood and Lucas Valley. These altitudes will reduce the noise impact as we fly over residential areas of Novato and Bel Marin Keys. Both routes are clockwise to favor the view of Young Eagles in the right seats.

We have created User Waypoints for ForeFlight and two flight plan routes: the shorter route at 2500 feet in magenta and a longer route at 3500 feet in cyan:

We assume everyone has ForeFlight, so here are the steps needed to create these Young Eagle flight plans. You can use the KML file to upload the YE waypoints and the two web links to create the flight plans in Foreflight. (Note: these instructions work easiest with iPhones and iPads. For other combinations, please contact Rick Beach.)

  1. Download this file containing the waypoints for Young Eagles flights: KDVO Young Eagles Waypoints.kml
  2. Then drag that KML file from your computer’s Finder into the AirDrop folder, and drop it onto the device that you use for ForeFlight. AirDrop will popup on the receiving device and request a choice of app to open with. Tap ForeFlight, then click on Custom Content, then User Waypoints. ForeFlight will confirm that you imported 13 user waypoints.
  3. For additional ways to import the Young Eagles waypoints, see this support page for Foreflight “How do I add User Waypoints in bulk?”
  4. To enter the 2500-foot flight plan, click on this link:
  5. To enter the 3500-foot flight plan, click on this link:

FYI, in ForeFlight, if you do some other flight planning, you can get back to these flight plans with the “Routes” icon that lists your recent routes.

Radio Calls for Young Eagle Flights

Because we have several Young Eagle flights in operation during an event, standardizing our radio calls helps ensure that each pilot can develop their situational awareness of who is close by.

All call signs will be “Young Eagles <aircraft-type> <tail-number>” so everyone knows who we are. For example, “Young Eagles Cherokee N3649R.” Also, we suggest these minimal reporting points to help improve situational awareness:

            YE-HAMILTON (2500 ft route)
            or YE-MARINWOOD (3500 ft route);
            YE-SANANTONIOCREEK (where the creek crosses under the highway 101 bridge);
            YE-ENTER45 (standard entry to traffic pattern).

At each waypoint, we suggest radio calls like this:

            “Young Eagles <aircraft-type> <tail-number> at Hamilton 2 thousand 5 hundred”

At the waypoint, YE-SANANTONIOCREEK, you will be 3 nm from Gnoss Field. Please enter the 45 then downwind for the appropriate runway based on winds and skydiving operations (if any).

Have a great flight!

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