Airport Spotlight on Carol and Steve MacCabe, Coordinators of EAA’s Young Eagles program at Chicago Executive Airport

Throughout the year, the Chicago Executive Airport recognizes members of the community who contribute extensively through volunteer leadership as it relates to the airport and flight through the series, “Airport Spotlight”. The recently featured “Airport Spotlight” recognizes a local couple, Carol and Steve MacCabe, who are dedicated members of the Young Eagles program, celebrating 20 years of helping hundreds of children experience the joy of flight here at CEA.   

The MacCabes are long-time volunteers of EAA’s Young Eagles program, which began in 1992 as a way to give young people ages 8 to 17 a free flight in an airplane and introduce them to the world of aviation. Carol has been with the program since 2000 and her husband, Steve, later joined her volunteer work after they met in 2004. The couple bonded over a shared passion for aviation, which brought them together. They soon fell in love and were married in 2005.  Throughout their relationship, they have led innumerable rallies and helped hundreds of youngsters take to the sky, with many of them flying for the first time.  

Carol became involved with the Young Eagles program after learning about it from a friend. After experiencing the program at Meigs Field, she knew she found the perfect way to blend her passion for flying and working with children. Though retired from teaching, Carol still spends time as a substitute teacher at St. Thomas of Villanova school in Palatine.   

“I love working with the children through the program,” Carol said about the experience. “It’s one of my happy places, and a way to give back by sharing my love of aviation with them.”  

During the rallies, Carol is busy answering questions from parents, assisting with registration, assigning children to pilots and assuring the event runs smoothly. Carol has even earned the nickname of “Donut Dolly,” as she brings fresh donuts to each rally as a token of appreciation for all the volunteers’ hard work. After the rallies, Carol and Steve tally the number of children flown and how many each pilot flew before sending the registration forms to the Young Eagles office in Oshkosh, WI, for the children’s names to be entered in the World’s Largest Logbook. They also send a “follow-up” report to every volunteer.  

“The Young Eagles program is a wonderful program, but it would not be at all successful if not for the ground volunteers, the pilots, Signature Flight Support and, of course, Chicago Executive Airport,” Carol explained. “It’s a program that if it wasn’t for the contributions, we couldn’t be able to do this.” 

While Carol was on the ground, Steve could be found in the sky flying Young Eagles in his Grumman Tiger. After retiring from flying last year, Steve became an integral part of the ground support team.  

“Flying has been part of my life for a long time,” Steve said. “I learned how to fly in 1990 when I got my license, then bought my first plane shortly after that.  I’ve been flying up until last year.” 

As a private pilot, Steve first purchased a Cessna 150, followed by a Grumman Tiger.  With these planes, he flew locally, as well as on trips to the Bahamas, Yellowstone, Texas, North Carolina and Florida.  

Through their many years of service to the program, Carol and Steve have their share of wonderful stories and experiences. One noteworthy story includes a student who flew with Steve several times at CEA. The student is now 17 and preparing to explore a career in aviation because of his positive experience with the Young Eagles program.   

Additionally, 7 to 8 years ago, Steve gave a cousin from Ft. Myers, FL, a Young Eagles flight at CEA when the family was visiting. Through that experience, the preteen discovered his passion for flight and is now a sophomore at Florida Institute of Technology, has his private pilot’s license and is studying to become a professional pilot.  

The MacCabes’ incredible work with the program has given them recognition for their service. In 2005, Harrison Ford (Young Eagles Honorary Chairman, 2004 – 2009) presented Carol with an award for “Outstanding Young Eagles Field Representative.” In 2021, Steve reached a major milestone when he flew his 500th Young Eagle. For this monumental achievement, he was recognized by the EAA with a “500 Mission Young Eagles” plaque.  

As part of their recognition in the “Airport Spotlight,” the MacCabes were honored at the October 11 CEA board meeting for their dedication to the community and service to the Young Eagles program.  

Thank you to Carol and Steve for your constant support of the Young Eagles program!