Four pilots recently took to the sky with members of Boy Scout Troop 75 during the Experimental Aviation Association's first local "Youth Eagle Flights" event.
The national EAA program is designed to give young people an exciting experience while encouraging their interest in aviation.
EAA chapter President Michael Rogers said Maryville's first Eagle Flights day was a big hit.
"They loved it," Rogers said. "For most of them it was their first time in an airplane. They were asking questions. One kid actually got to fly. I think it was unanimously a good time for all."
Rogers said that such organizations as EAA need to act now to recruit the pilots of the future.
"The idea really is to get youth interested," he said. "I can't say for sure, but it appears that at some point in the near future we will have a shortage of pilots in this country."
While the life of a professional pilot may not seem as glamourous as it did a few decades ago, Rogers said there are plenty of promising careers in aviation, and that those opportunities aren't going to go away.
During the recent Eagle Flights day, pilots took the Scouts into the blue while other volunteers demonstrated preflight safety checks and map reading techniques.
Participating Scouts were able to finish the requirements for their aviation merit badge.
In addition to a free plane ride, Rogers said the program offered an introduction to ground school, the first step toward earning a private pilot's license, and one for which EAA scholarship assistance is available.
Aside from the thrill of flying, Rogers said young people derive many benefits from exploring the science and craft of aviation.
"You acquire many technical and engineering skills," Rogers said.
"And you learn a lot of responsibility. At the end of the day, the pilot is responsible for what goes on in that plane, the passengers, and the maintenance of the aircraft. Flying is tremendously enjoyable."
Other EAA programs include "Angel Flights," during which seriously ill children are transported to hospitals and medical centers.
The local EAA chapter plans to hold more Eagle Flights in the future and is considering a similar program for adults.
The group's next meeting is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, at Northwest Missouri Regional Airport west of Maryville.
At that time, members will discuss plans for a fly-in and air show scheduled for September.
All EAA meetings are open to the public. Membership does not require plane ownership or a pilot's license.