Eagle Scout Noah Crowe is a budding aviation enthusiast.
Eagle Scout Noah Crowe is a budding aviation enthusiast.
MADISON — An aviation club offered an Eagle Scout flying lessons at the Madison Airport after attending an outreach event.

Kim Jurgens, a Madison resident and President of the Experimental Aircraft Association, said that his chapter, Chapter 276, the Central Mississippi branch of the national entity, makes youth outreach priority.

“We are very youth-oriented,” Jurgens said. “We have several programs where we try to get young people in planes and give them a unique experience.”

One of their programs is a three-day class that connects with area scout troops to give scouts an opportunity to obtain a merit badge that, traditionally, has a high barrier to entry due to limited equipment and expertise.

About 30 scouts met at the local airport in Raymond recently to complete the Aviation merit badge.

“They complete all the requirements and get to go up for about a 20-minute flight,” Jurgens said.

After the weekend they allow the scouts to submit a series of essays to compete for a $500 scholarship to some flight training.

Noah Crowe, son of Robert and Paula Crowe, of Troop 88 won this year’s essay contest. He met with the Jurgens, Paul Duff and Madison Flyer’s instructor, George Cricenti at the Madison Airport on Monday morning to receive his check.

“He got into the house from the last day and said ‘Mom, I have to wright an essay,’” Paula said.

Jurgens said he received the essay on the last day of the weekend.

“I think his essay hit my inbox at oh-dark-thirty,” Jurgens said with a laugh.

Crowe is the Junior Assistant Scout Master of his Troop. Crowe has already attained the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America. Crowe said this went towards his third “palm,” an additional award added to Eagle for merit badges completed after attaining the rank and before turning eighteen.

“I just took the class because I saw an opportunity to learn something and earn another merit badge,” Crowe said. “It was fun and I decided I would apply for their scholarship too.”

The second essay submitted asked applicants to say how they would use aviation to serve the community.

Crowe said he wanted to give kids who might not have access to friends with planes, the opportunity to experience flight, something he has been fortunate enough to enjoy.

“Through our church, Noah has really gotten into some of our local ministries that go into disadvantaged communities. He leads Bible studies and throws the football and he has really gotten to see how fortunate he has been to grow up where he has in the family he has and has become very interested in offering others friendship and help,” Paula said.

Cricenti said that the scholarship will get Crowe about three lessons. He said that is just a start on the 8-10month, 40-plus hours it takes to get a private pilots license, but he said the process yields a variety of perks including useful skills and certifications that can often translate to college credit hours and job opportunities.

Cricenti, a fixture of the roughly 150 takeoffs and landings performed at the Madison airport everyday for about the past 18 years, was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in May. This is one of the most prestigious decorations given away by the Federal Aviation Administration, celebrates a minimum of 50 years in the sky without an accident.

Cricenti joined about 18 other Mississippians to receive the award.

“I thought I was just going to dinner with my wife and another couple and we get taken to this back room with all my friends and everyone's applauding,” circuit said. “It was a complete surprise.”

Cricenti started flying in college, had a 25 year career in the Air Force and settled in the Jackson Area in the nineties.

Duff, EAA chapter treasurer, said that he and Jurgens enjoyed introducing people to their hobby.

“We are very passionate about introducing people to flying,” Duff said. “We meet and go flying most weekends, all anyone has to do is contact our chapter and we will gladly try to get pretty much anyone interested up in a plane.”