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Coming of Age: A 16-Year-Old’s Cross-Country Adventure

On Tuesday, June 8, 16-year-old Luc Zipkin, EAA 1402742, set out in his 1946 Piper J-3C-65 Cub to fly cross country. Taking inspiration from the 1966 memoir Flight of Passage, by Kern and Rinker Buck, Luc plans to fly from his home in Connecticut all the way to Southern California, and back, closely followed by his instructor, and dad, Eric Zipkin, EAA 1060293.

“I’m watching the weather, keeping tabs on things,” said Eric. “While he is doing the vast majority of this on his own, I am, as directed by prudence and also by his mother, watching things very carefully.”

What inspires a young man to embark on such a mission? His passion to bring the art of aviation into the lives of other young men and women. At 14, Luc joined his family to celebrate the 75th anniversary of D-Day in a flight across Western Europe. While on this trip, Luc had a realization.

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Erik explained “we had a conversation and [Luc] was like ‘You know, this is just an extraordinary experience, but I can’t help but notice how difficult it would be for my peers to get involved in [aviation] if they didn’t have a parent or close friend that really opened up the world to them.’”

Luc knew he had to do something about this.

“Luc started an organization, Young Pilots USA, to really serve as a social group so that like-minded young people could feel comfortable around other young people who are into aviation,” Eric said. “Then that mutual support would allow opportunities for flight instruction or … just getting a ride and just being around other airplanes and what not … He hit upon the idea of doing this cross-country trip to raise awareness for the organization, to raise awareness about flying and getting people into aviation.”

coming of age a 16 year olds cross country adventure Airplane GEEK Coming of Age: A 16-Year-Old’s Cross-Country Adventure

So far, the flight has been a success. On Friday, June 11, Luc made it to Sweetwater, Texas. Along the way he has raised more than $3,500 to pay for his flight. Through this he is helping inspire young people everywhere to explore their passion of aviation. Eric explained the importance of this.

“We need to make sure that we really let the young people drive what aviation is going to look like in the future,” said Eric. “It’s very easy to tell people how to do things, but it’s a lot more difficult to create a situation where they figure out how to do things and they figure out what they want to do … to make any sort of youth outreach program work much more effectively and be much more sustainable … the youth need to own it and need to run with it.”

Those interested in finding more out about Luc’s journey or organization can go to https://www.youngpilots.org/cubflight for more information.

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