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Young eagles take flight

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RONAN- Many people aren’t lucky enough to find their true passion in life, and the few who do often have difficulty pinpointing the exact moment of inspiration. Mauri Morin, president of the Mission Valley Young Eagles Chapter 1122, is the exception to this rule.

“I’ve wanted to fly since I was 6 years old,” Morin said. “A barnstormer landed in my father’s field and took my father and I up for a ride. Ever since then I’ve wanted to help the youth in aviation.”

Morin’s first solo flight was completed in 1952. He joined the Marine Corps shortly after with aspirations of flying military planes, but a heart murmur kept him on the ground during the Korean War. He completed his General Aviation License in 1964 and has flown as a private pilot ever since. 

In 1992, Morin reactivated Mission Valley’s Young Eagles chapter and has been taking the valley’s youth to new heights ever since. 

Since the international program’s birth in 1992, 1.6 million Young Eagles ages 9 to 17 have taken to the skies in 90 countries under the guidance of 42,000 volunteer pilots. 

The program features three major summer events in Polson, St. Ignatius and Ronan. This particular event featured three single-engine aircraft: a Cessna 172 flown by Polson flight instructor Trey Mornan; a Cessna 206 flown by smoke jumper pilot Nels Jensen; and a Cessna 182 flown by Senator Carmine Mowbray.

Teenager Kylie Koberg was lucky enough to obtain a ride from Senator Mowbray and plans to keep flying in the future. 

“It was fun,” Koberg said. “It’s really weird to see how the land is blocked out from above; it’s a lot different from what you see on the ground.”

In all, nearly 150 children and young adults participated in the event. 

“It’s such a privilege in the U.S. to be able to fly like this. It’s an expression of freedom that I’m happy to promote,” Mowbray said. 

A veteran of the skies, Mowbray began her aviation career, “when gas was 58 cents per gallon,” and says she loves to share the passion of flying with kids. 

“The opportunity is there for anyone; as long as they’ve got the passion,” she said. 

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