Student Retention Initiative gains frontline perspective at regional meetings

July 21, 2011

A series of regional meetings that AOPA is hosting as part of its Flight Training Student Retention Initiative began in May and continues in August, as the aviation community works to increase the success of pilot trainees and address the decline of the pilot population.

The team will visit Long Beach, Calif., and Chicago in August, and conclude the national tour in Dallas in early September.

AOPA chose the meeting locations based on flight-school density—to get as much participation as possible. There are two meetings held in each city, one for active flight instructors and flight school owners/managers (collectively considered “flight training providers”) and another for the aviation community.

“We recognized the need to gain a first-hand perspective from flight training providers on how AOPA and the industry can help them succeed and ultimately help grow the pilot population,” said Jennifer Storm, AOPA director of flight training initiatives. “Considering flight training providers’ busy schedules, we committed to holding regional meetings to make it as convenient as possible for them to participate.”

Meetings for aviation community members (pilots, student pilots, and aviation businesses other than flight training providers) also will be held in each location to get the client’s perspective on flight training. “We certainly value the perspective of those who conduct flight training but we also wanted to include the recipients of that training. The aviation community provides an important perspective, both from their experience in flight training and from their expertise in other areas, and we can benefit from that,” Storm said.

With an estimated 70 to 80 percent of those who begin flight training not succeeding in earning a pilot certificate, and the pilot population declining, the objective of the meetings and of the collaborative Flight Training Student Retention Initiative is to build real-world solutions by developing resources and programs that improve the flight training experience—ultimately strengthening general aviation.

The meeting format includes a status update on the AOPA Flight Training Student Retention Initiative, followed by small-group discussions to generate ideas and solutions to help more student pilots complete flight training. The attributes of the optimal flight training experience— identified by “The Flight Training Experience” research report—will be used to guide the discussions.

The meetings scheduled for August and September follow meetings held earlier in Fairfield, N. J., Renton, Wash., and Orlando, Fla. To share your experience and contribute your ideas, participate in an upcoming meeting. Registration is required and available online.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.