Across generations, dreams of flight have captured young people’s imaginations and made their spirits soar. The first airplane ride from the hometown airport creates a never-to-be-forgotten memory—unsurpassed, except perhaps by a first flight lesson, and later, a first solo.
For pilots, making a young dreamer’s wish of flight come true on a sunny summer afternoon is one of aviation’s greatest joys—but it’s only a first step. Nurturing the prospective pilot’s journey toward a lifetime in aviation takes sustained engagement blended with quality education and enthusiastic, supportive cultivation.
With that goal in mind and with a vibrant future for aviation the dream of all pilots, AOPA is introducing AOPA AV8RS, a new form of AOPA membership available free to young people ages 13 to 18. Youth membership benefits include a digital subscription to Flight Training magazine, dedicated content at www.aopa.org/av8rs, access to members-only content of AOPA Online and the AOPA Pilot Information Center toll-free help line, aviation quizzes for young people from the Air Safety Institute, chances to win flight training scholarships, and opportunities to connect with other AOPA AV8RS across the country through dedicated online social communities including Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, and a blog written by teens for teens. AOPA AV8RS members also will have free admittance to AOPA Aviation Summit. Upon joining, AV8RS members will receive a member welcome kit containing a letter of greeting, a membership card, and an AOPA AV8RS-branded sling bag.
AOPA believes that youth membership in the association will become an invaluable resource for young people, and will benefit and energize the aviation community at large.
Many aviation organizations, businesses, and education providers that serve young people will be involved in reaching out to tomorrow’s pilots, raising awareness, and providing engagement and support to AOPA AV8RS members.
“A strong and growing pilot population is vital to the future of our industry. Without pilots, general aviation cannot exist. But it takes a village to nurture and support the next generation of pilots. As such, we recognize the importance of working closely with other aviation and youth-serving organizations to share and combine resources in order to meet our respective objectives,” said Michelle Peterson, AOPA vice president of membership marketing.
Although youth engagement efforts have been advanced by numerous groups in the past, youth membership in a major aviation organization is a new wrinkle. Forging an early bond will help launch tomorrow’s pilots “into a continuum of activities and experiences that will involve and engage them for many years to come,” said Lauren Otto, AOPA membership development program manager.
You can learn about AOPA AV8RS on July 28 at an AOPA reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Partner Resource Center north of exhibit hangar C at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.
AOPA AV8RS will be front and center at AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, Calif., Oct. 11 to 13 with selected educational and entertainment programs to be presented with a young pilot’s twist.
“A robust youth membership program that introduces teens to the world of aviation and provides support and encouragement is critical to promoting the popularity of flight in general aviation aircraft,” said Peterson. “Inspiring young people to learn to fly is the beginning of a promise. Providing a sustainable structure is the key to fulfilling that promise.”
Become an AOPA AV8RS member—teens can enroll online for free.