July 19, 2006
A Wisconsin flight school reports "tremendous success" offering a flight time discount for pilots who complete an AOPA Air Safety Foundation online course.
"It's the most successful promotion we've ever done," said Chief Pilot Fred Vogt of Western Shore Aviation, in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. "It gives our customers an incentive to stay current, while lowering their rental cost. It's a win-win deal if I've ever seen one."
Western Shore offers a $10 discount on the next hour of aircraft rental to pilots who successfully complete any of the free, Air Safety Foundation full-length online courses and then present the course graduation certificate at the aircraft rental counter.
Vogt estimates that 80 percent of Western Shore's aircraft rental customers have already taken advantage of the flight time discount at least once.
He added that customers are vociferous in their praise of the program, which also gives pilots a head start on completing the FAA Wings safety program.
Western Shore Aviation general manager Tim Wasmer conceived the 'discount for improving safety' idea two years ago, not long after ASF began expanding the number of online courses.
There are currently an even dozen free ASF full-length courses on safety topics as diverse as weather, GPS, mountain flying, and airspace. All ASF full-length online courses satisfy the FAA Wings ground instruction requirement.
"It's made the pilots who are already our customers safer," continued Vogt. "It's also an effective way of communicating to other pilots and even non-pilots that this FBO is on the leading edge, that we're truly interested in making you a better, safer pilot."
ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg applauded Western Shore Aviation for the offer. "It's easy to offer lip service to aviation safety," he said. "But Western Shore Aviation has found a way to encourage safety while providing an incentive for their customers to fly more.
"I hope other FBOs and flight schools around the country will follow their lead."
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