Roughly fifty local scouts across several troops in the Black Warrior Council met at Hawthorne Aviation in the Tuscaloosa National Airport on Saturday for the cost-free opportunity to earn their Aviation Merit Badges.

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Volunteers from Tuscaloosa's Chapter 557 of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and Squadron 24 of the Civil Air Patrol made the day possible by hosting and devoting their own resources to the event, according to Troop 90B leader David Pass.

"It was a really great service that the EAA and Civil Air Patrol did and Hawthorne Aviation allowed us to have in their hanger," said Pass

"Kudos goes to them."

The event itself was apart of the EAA's Young Eagles program where, since its launch in 1992, licensed pilots give kids interested in aviation their first ride in an airplane for free.

Seven local pilots and dozens of other volunteers were given a list of the merit badge's several requirements prior to the event and, with the knowledge, set up five stations for the scouts to complete each one at.

Each scout got the opportunity to ride in a plane on Saturday, one that many there had yet to experience. At the stations, they also got to go through pre-flight inspections, make their own gliders, listen in to the Tuscaloosa air control tower and plot courses on aeronautical charts.

Pass said that the exposure each scout got to the aviation industry is one of the reasons why the Scouting organization is still so important.

"It's the best part of scouts," said Pass.

"To be an Eagle Scout, you have to earn 21 merit badges. Of which, 14 are required - and those are the ones like camping, swimming and other outdoor skills."

"But the other ones, the electives, are really great because they expose scouts to things they might be interested in and aviation is something that is not accessible for many people... It opens some doors to scouts so that they get experience in something that might end up becoming a hobby or a career."

Parents and Scout leaders were encouraged to participate in all portions of the day besides the flight and a meal was provided at no cost, courtesy of the local EAA chapter.

Those looking to get involved in scouting can do so through the Black Warrior Council's website.

Corrections: Hawthorn(e), Black Warrior Couincil

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