For all those involved in or interested in experimental aircraft, Walton County now has its own Experimental Aviation Association chapter for like-minded people.
The Walton County Aviators Chapter No. 1548 Inc. has now completed all necessary state and federal requirements in establishing itself as a corporate entity. This local EAA chapter is located at the DeFuniak Springs airport.
The members are comprised of pilots, want-to-be pilots, aircraft builders, general aviation owners, and people who have an interest in flying.
The group boasts of a wide range of experience in aviation and represents a segment of the community with a unique special interest.
The objective of the organization is to help each other gain expertise in flying, maintaining, and construction of aircraft.
Members also will seek to help cultivate the desire in area youth to fly, and provide opportunities for all to be introduced to the grass-roots aviation world.
“We encourage anyone with an interest in aviation to come and join our group,” said Joe Stanko, chapter president. “If you like airplanes, and your bucket list has flying as an item, you’re a great candidate for our chapter.”
Stanko said the Experimental Aircraft Association has been around for years. Based in Oshkosh, Wisc., Stanko said the organization was founded to help people get interested in aviation and flying. ground control, etc. The EAA supports chapters around the country. He said before Chapter 1548 was established, the nearest ones were at the Tri-County Airport in Bonifay, Sandy Creek at Callaway, in Enterprise, and Fort Walton Beach.
"There were guys driving to these other locations, so, we needed one here," he said. "It's a central point for those interested in flying."
Stanko was asked by DeFuniak Airport Manager Ryan Adams in September 2012 to help him start a chapter and the wheels were put in motion then to get permission from the FAA. A minimum of 10 people were needed to start a chapter. Chapter 1548 has 14, with three members living in South Walton.
When they meet, the Walton County aviators talk about flight safety, building aircraft, the ever-changing electronics, and experts come in and talk about techniques. They also have safety seminars presented by FAA volunteers.
The group recently voted to support the restoration of the T-33 military jet on display at the airport entrance and the area around it as their project.
The group meets the first Saturday of each month at the DeFuniak Airport at 10 a.m. If you are interested in aircraft and the group, stop by the airport office and someone will direct you to the meeting. To join, you must be a member of EAA National, which has an annual fee of $40, and a chapter fee of $15 annually. You may join the EAA National organization on their web site at www.eaa.org, or complete a hard-copy application available at the airport office.
For additional information, stop by the airport office or contact Joe Stanko at 865-1996 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The airport is owned by the city of DeFuniak. EAA is a not-for-profit organization.