Leading in the air

Bonnie and Dave Jennen were awarded the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagle Leadership Award for their work with the Fergus Falls EAA chapter.

Phillips 66 Aviation is honored to announce the 2020 Phillips 66 Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles Leadership Award to Dave and Bonnie Jennen of Erhard. 

The Jennens, members of EAA Chapter 1174 in Fergus Falls, regularly fly children from about eight schools in west Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas, totaling 500–600 Young Eagles flights per year. Dave is the volunteer pilot, while Bonnie helps coordinate the logistics. Despite being in a rural area, their chapter regularly conducts the most Young Eagles flights in the state of Minnesota, which is due to the cooperation of Chapter 1174 members and the help they receive from surrounding EAA chapters. Dave has personally flown over 1,100 Young Eagles, since the early 2000s.

“Through my work in the sheriff’s department, I met so many kids that didn’t have access to these kinds of experiences,” said Dave. “We saw an opportunity to work directly with area schools to coordinate Young Eagles flights for their students. For me, it’s about boosting the kids’ confidence, exciting them, and motivating them to stay engaged in school, even giving them something to study towards.”

Not only do the Jennens run a successful Young Eagles program, but Dave goes the extra mile to mentor the students. He visits each classroom prior to the students taking their Young Eagles flight. He educates the students on aviation and the importance of choosing a positive attitude, setting their own path and conquering goals. He also serves as a mentor to young adults who express an interest in flight training.

For more than 25 years, Phillips 66 Aviation has proudly sponsored The EAA Young Eagles, an organization whose sole mission is to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation by providing youths ages 8 – 17 their first free ride in an airplane. More than 2 million children have flown through the EAA Young Eagles program with the help of EAA’s network of volunteer pilots and ground volunteers.

The award, which is typically announced at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, recognizes outstanding Young Eagles volunteers that have supported the future of aviation by going above and beyond the basic Young Eagles flight.

“Although we can’t celebrate in person this year, it’s a pleasure to present this award to Dave and Bonnie,” said Eric McMurphy, Sales Manager, General Aviation, Phillips 66. “I’m proud to recognize them with the 2020 Young Eagles Leadership Award for their dedication to EAA and their commitment to mentoring young aviators. On behalf of everybody at Phillips 66 and the EAA, I thank them for serving the aviation community and inspiring future pilots.”

In addition to their Young Eagles activity, the Jennens are active members of the EAA and regularly volunteer. They travel to Oshkosh for several weeks each year to help with AirVenture, serving as co-chairs of the AirVenture admissions gate that is in the EAA Aviation Museum lobby.

To learn more about the EAA Young Eagles program, visit eaa.org.

To learn more about how Phillips 66 supports the Young Eagles program, visit phillips66aviation.com.

To view the virtual honoring visit www.eaatogether.org/live/hangarflying/6173676275001.

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