Students soar like eagles during aviation program

By Bob Fleming

ROOSEVELT — Children should be allowed to soar like eagles to achieve their highest goals — that was the message delivered to Roosevelt Public School students recently during a special program sponsored by the In Search of Eagles Foundation.

Motivating youth to dream, to care and to dare is the common theme of the educational program promoted by the In Search of Eagles Foundation, of North Jersey, specializing in nature conservation and youth motivation issues.

The organization was founded by Rick Trader, a sport aviator who fulfilled a life-long dream of piloting a Kolb TwinStar ultralight aircraft on an unprecedented 15,000-mile transcontinental flight in 1991.

According to Trader, who visited the Roosevelt Public School on May 10 with his ultralight plane, aviation plays a key role in linking our country’s history and environment with present day events.

"Unfortunately, today’s youth are not being taught sport aviation the way they’re being sold a multitude of consumer products," Trader said. "I want to invoke a youth movement bringing them to a natural high through the joy of flying."

Trader incorporates the importance of environmental and wildlife protection in a program that combines the thrill of aviation with traveling around the country to observe some of the natural beauty and wonders found in the environment from coast to coast.

According to Trader, In Search of Eagles provides an educational forum to promote environmental concerns and to increase the awareness of the precious gifts of nature, creating a domino effect to appreciate and protect the Earth.

"The future of nature and wildlife lies in the hands of our youth," Trader said. "However, if they can’t appreciate it, they won’t protect it. With my films, talks and adventures, I can make youth become fans of nature and wildlife."

Trader said he encourages students to understand that dreams, like his cross-country solo flight in an ultralight airplane, inclusive of all personal goals and ambitions, can be achieved if they remain focused and properly motivated.

"By combining the educational process with sport aviation, students are encouraged and motivated to stay in school and to learn," Trader said. "Computers and computer flight simulators are very popular with kids. Involving them in aviation, education and ecology will bring them to a real virtual reality."

Through his cross-country travels, Trader recounts his experiences, observations and perceptions concerning the environment and the need to protect it. He visits schools with his ultralight airplane and shares his stories and videotape travelogues with students, while promoting the role of education in shaping their future.

During his six-month trek through the continental United States, Canada and Alaska, Trader filmed more than 143 hours of video footage and snapped more than 3,000 pictures of his trip. He flew over 27 states, Mexico and three Canadian provinces during the course of his extended flight.

During Trader’s visit to the Roosevelt school, the students and staff were treated to an inspection of his ultralight plane and took turns being seated as pilot and passenger in the aircraft.

"The In Search of Eagles Foundation presents a marvelous program that the children found extremely interesting as well as motivating," said Dr. Dale Weinbach, chief school administrator. "We were delighted to host this program and have Mr. Trader visit our school and share his message concerning the environment and nature."

Trader told the students his trip taught him how to take obstacles and turn them into opportunities to gain strength and character.

"I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I believe this trip was just a beginning for me," Trader said. "It’s leading me somewhere and I guess I’ll just see where it continues to take me."