As we seek to grow the pilot population, there’s a fair degree of discussion about how our industry can bring new pilots into aviation. This is perfectly appropriate, as we will always need a good supply of new blood to replace those who leave flying.
But there’s an adage in business that it’s much easier to keep a customer you’ve already got, than it is to acquire a new one. This is especially true in aviation where the barrier to entry is high, and only one in five students complete pilot training.
Once a pilot has been created, we want him or her to enjoy as long an aviation lifespan as possible. But this is not something we can take for granted. Qualified pilots drop out of active flying all the time. How many times have you met an old acquaintance and cheerfully asked, “are you still flying?” only for them to stare at their shoes and mumble something about needing to get current again.
We did some basic database analysis last year and discovered more than 500,000 lapsed pilots in the United States under the age of 75. That’s an awful lot of customers we have allowed to slip out the backdoor. This got us wondering about our chances of reactivating these people.
Obviously, some pilots will never return to the sky, but if even a small proportion of 500,000 came back, it would aid our quest to grow the pilot population.
So earlier this year AOPA commissioned a national survey of several hundred lapsed pilots. We learned a lot about why people leave aviation, and our prospects for bringing them back. One piece of information really jumped out: Not a single person had completely given up on flying. More than half of those surveyed fully expects to return to aviation, the rest think they might come back, but absolutely no one said, it’s over, I’m done.
Rusty Pilots come in all varieties. Some have lapsed their three month recency, others have lapsed three years. Occasionally we’ll meet a young buck that’s lapsed three decades. Regardless of your level of retrogression, Rusty Pilots will sharpen your aviation knowledge and introduce modern topics.
Rusty Pilots is designed to re-introduce pilots to the changing flight environment. Discussion includes use of newer technology, changes in the airspace system, new resources available to pilots, and much more. Most importantly, the Rusty Pilots program fulfills the ground instruction requirement of your Flight Review.
Absolutely Not! Rusty Pilots is a seminar that is designed to educate lapsed pilots on changes in the industry and help them reconnect with their local aviation community. There is no required test.
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AOPA will be presenting the Rusty Pilots program at our seven regional fly in’s. We cordially invite you to join us for a full day of aviation festivities. If you can’t make it to a regional fly out, we encourage that you reach out to a local flight school and express the need for the program. The program is free for flight schools and flying clubs, and enrollment is currently open.
The Rusty Pilots program is free, and accounts for the ground potion of your Flight Review (BFR). The FAA also requires pilots to complete a minimum of one hour of Instruction in an airplane. Planning the exact cost of completing your currency is a great discussion to have with your presenter after the Rusty Pilots presentation. Hourly plane rental can range from $90-$150 an hour depending on location and type of aircraft.
Absolutely! We all know that aviation is a great family hobby, and we encourage passenger participation. We do ask that you submit a second application form for the event (so that we can plan an accurate head count).
It doesn’t hurt to refresh your knowledge prior to Rusty Pilots, but it is not required. You may download review resources. We recommend you bring a notepad and paper along to the seminar, it is often helpful for remembering questions that you may want to ask the presenter after the presentation is over.
Yes! Our presenters can provide you with endorsement stickers that can be put in your logbook in the future. You will also receive a documentation certifying your completion of the program.
Rusty Pilots was designed to address recent changes in the world of flying. Regulatory discussions include light sport aircraft, medical requirements, airspace, and common regulations. Weather includes TAFS, METARS, internet briefing, and FSS/ Flight Watch. Operation discussions include traffic patterns, communications, incursion avoidance, and pilot responsibilities.
May 1, 2016
May 7, 2016
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