Let's Go Flying!

August 11, 2008

What’s the best way to get nonpilots interested in aviation? Take them flying! AOPA officially launched its Let’s Go Flying initiative during the Nov. 8 general session after months of extensive research and testing to determine how to best address the problem of a declining pilot population.

“If there is one thing pilots love to do, it’s share the joy of flight,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “A lot of would-be pilots ‘caught the bug’ simply because someone--a friend, relative, or business colleague—took them for a flight in a light aircraft. Let’s Go Flying has been developed to capture the interest of anyone who has ever thought about learning to fly, engage them by providing information and resources, and get them to an airport and into an airplane for a first flight.”

Once someone starts on the path to becoming a pilot, Let’s Go Flying will help guide them through the training process. And as they work through their training and earn their certificate, Let’s Go Flying will be there with additional resources and advice. From the first dream of flying to the moment that dream becomes reality, Let’s Go Flying will be there, every step of the way.

“In response to my personal appeal for ideas to address the declining pilot population, thousands of AOPA members told us that the key was to sell the fun and practical benefits of learning to flying, and get a prospect into an airplane,” said Boyer. “Those of us who’ve discovered general aviation know that it’s a really useful mode of transportation, and it’s fun, so we want to share it. That’s what Let’s Go Flying is all about.”

With Let’s Go Flying, AOPA has developed a three-phase communications strategy utilizing online and traditional marketing to engage, motivate, and support interested potential pilots to continue on the path to becoming a pilot, and joining the general aviation pilot population.

The Let’s Go Flying Web site is set up to contain three sites in one. The first area is for people who dream of learning to fly but have never pursued the dream. It explains all of the great reasons for learning to fly, like quick weekend trips to visit family or a getaway spot that’s too far to go by car.

The second area is for those who have decided it’s time to take flight. It explains some of what’s involved in learning to fly, and how to find a flight school and choose an instructor.

The third area is for those who have already started learning to fly, or are ready to return to training after a hiatus. It has information on the maneuvers needed to earn a pilot certificate, and in case the flying bug has really bitten, how to choose and finance your own plane.

Letsgoflying.com also features an online database of more than 3,500 flight schools nationwide, most of which offer discounts on introductory flights. Visitors can use the flight school database to search by zip code and can also find answers to questions about the time and cost involved in becoming a pilot and the types of pilot certificates and airplanes that are available.

The site offers a wealth of additional information about flying, including the benefits of flying and potential career opportunities; unique destinations and local events for pilots; expert flight training advice; firsthand pilot stories; the opportunity to share your own story; and educational information for all levels of pilots.

As it heads toward 2009, AOPA is working with trusted flight school partners to offer opportunities for pilot prospects to get to the airport in a friendly, picnic-like environment and have an opportunity to take an introductory flight. “We want each person to experience what it feels like in the air,” said Boyer. “Flying is fun, and just about anyone can learn to do it. These first flights are on the critical path for someone looking to learn to fly.”