When Rod Dunfield retired to Southern California in 1998, the first thing he did was visit the local airport at French Valley. A lifelong pilot and a Kitfox builder himself, he loved the environment out at French Valley. He discovered and befriended dozens of other builders and pilots. With so many builders at French Valley, he was amazed that they had never organized into an EAA chapter. There was plenty of enthusiasm for the EAA. They all wished there was a chapter nearby that they could join. So Rod said, “Why not start our own?” EAA Headquarters told Rod that he would need at least 10 members to form a new chapter. So Rod got busy lining up 10 people who said they would join if he started one up. The word began to circulate that an EAA chapter was forming at French Valley. When they held their first meeting, 39 people showed up to become charter members. Some were builders, some were pilots, some just loved being around the airport. There were teachers, doctors, letter carriers, housewives, and engineers. There were airline pilots, military pilots, private pilots, ultra-light pilots, and armchair pilots. They all had one thing in common. They all loved to get together and talk about airplanes and flying.
That’s how the chapter got started and we continue to grow. We have approximately 65 members currently. Our members come from all walks of life. Many are active builders. One even teaches an A & P course at a San Diego college. In the great EAA tradition, we are dedicated to creating an environment that supports and encourages aviation in all its forms. We provide encouragement for those who dream and support for those who are pursuing their dreams.
We hold meetings on the last Saturday of each month at 10:00 AM in the EAA Hangar at the French Valley Airport. Our hangar is located just inside the North gate on Sky Canyon Drive. Please honk for access and someone will let you through the gate. You can usually count on a guest speaker or a member presentation on a subject of interest to all. Visitors are always welcome.
We have an active Young Eagles program with rallies three times a year where we introduce youngsters of ages 8 through 17 to the joys of flight. For most it is their first flight in an airplane. There is no cost to the kids or their parents. The kids go home with certificates suitable for framing signed by the pilot identifying the youngster as a Young Eagle. More importantly, they go home with the memory of an experience they will remember the rest of their lives.
When you visit the French Valley Airport, you can’t miss the BD-5J mounted on a pylon in front of the terminal building. It was erected by members of our chapter and bears the tail number N1279. At the base of the pylon there is a plaque describing the airplane, identifying the local supporters who helped fund the project, and an inscription dedicating the monument to the memory of our beloved founder, Rod Dunfield.
Our chapter is part of the worldwide network of EAA chapters. EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world's most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA's 170,000 plus members enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. To find out more about EAA and our programs and services, please visit our home page at EAA.org.