Eldorado Middle School’s GT classes met Gerry Hatch, an experimental airplane pilot from San Angelo at the Eldorado Airport on Friday, October 4th.

Hatch and Andy Spinks met with the students who have been studying how planes fly and the components of a plane in class. The opportunity allowed the students to see a plane first hand and ask questions.

Some of the students interviewed the pilots using special iPads to record the interviews and take pictures.

Hatch flew in from San Angelo to allow the students an up close look at a plane and to learn about flight, as well as aviation careers.

Gerry Hatch is an electrical engineer who retired from IBM. A lifelong aviation enthusiast, he has been a pilot for decades and has owned four different aircraft including the RV-10 experimental aircraft that he built himself and brought to Eldorado. He has been a spokesperson for Cirrus Aircraft and a past president of the San Angelo chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. One focus of that organization is exposing young people to flight and educating the next generation about aviation.

Andy Spinks, currently the security account manager at Ethicon, working directly for Allied Universal Security. Spinks has been a security manager for the last seven years. Prior to moving back to the area in 2015, he managed security for all of the City of San Antonio properties including the San Antonio International Airport.

Spinks also has flown for the West Texas Weather Modification Program, seeding clouds across the region. He also owned an air charter service that flew out of San Angelo, and has been a volunteer pilot for the Civil Air Patrol, flying support missions for US Customs along the Rio Grande.

Spinks holds his private, instrument, multi-engine, and commercial pilot licenses. He conducted student aviation camps at the airport in New Braunfels and has worked with Boy Scouts as a badge counselor for the Aviation Badge. He loves sharing his passion for aviation with kids.

Spinks and Hatch spoke to the students about the Young Eagles Program. The program was launched in 1992 and allows kids ages 8-17 to have their first free ride in an airplane. It’s the only program of its kind, with the sole mission to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation.

The pilots are members of the Experimental Aircraft Association who members volunteer their time and planes to offer these free rides.