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Observer/Advocate
P.O. Box 429
Mt. Lake, MN 56159
Phone: 507-427-2725
Fax: 507-427-2724


It was through a TV commercial advertising the Minnesota Air

Spectacular in Mankato that 15-year-old Brianna Ringen came across the Young Eagles essay contest. The winner of the contest would fly with renowned aviator and EAA’s Young Eagles International Chairman, Sean D. Tucker. EAA’s mission is to provide a meaningful flight experience for young people, free of charge.

Ringen decided to write about her grandfather, Les Young, who loved to fly.

Young had been a pilot in the Air Force and a 19-year veteran of the South Dakota Air National Guard.

Ringen never got to meet her grandfather because he was killed when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by a semi-truck. At the time Lt. Colonel Young was on a training mission at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, N.M.

In her essay, “What a Ride in an Airplane Would Mean to Me,” Ringen writes, “I have heard many stories about his love of flying and the Air Guard. My mom got to fly with him

and says he was happiest when he was flying. I would love to experience what made him feel so happy.”

The love of flying didn’t end with the death of Ringen’s grandfather. Her mother, Nancy, attended ground school and took flight lessons during a January interim at Augustana

College, Sioux Falls.

She was less than 20 hours from receiving her pilot’s license when she had to quit because of the cost of lessons.

“Back then $40 an hour was a lot of money for a college student,” says Nancy Ringen.

Brianna’s uncle, Jason Young, was in the Air Force for four years and flew with the Air Force Thunderbirds for four years. He is now in the Air National Guard based out of Sioux Falls.

After the flight, Ringen never stopped smiling. “It was great,” she says. “Pilot Sean Tucker guided me through some rolls, loops and other maneuvers.” The Mankato Young

Eagles Chapter 642 presented Brianna and her parents, Steven and Nancy Ringen, with VIP passes to the Commander Chalet at the Mankato Regional Airport during the air show, passes to the reception at the Verizon Wireless Center and

T-shirts. Brianna received a Young Eagles certificate and

a Minnesota Air Spectacular commemorative coin.

What was so special for the Ringen family is the fact that the Thunderbirds were in the Mankato Air Spectacular show.

Ringen will be a junior at Butterfield-Odin High School this fall. After graduation she plans on attending Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, majoring in actuarial science. Actuarial science applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in insurance, finance and other industries and professions. Ringen also plans on pursuing her pilot’s license.

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