March 30, 2012
By Thomas B Haines
AOPA President Craig Fuller announced the Keep 'em Flying Challenge at Sun 'n Fun.
While AOPA has numerous initiatives under way to grow the pilot population and support general aviation flying, the most visible over the next few months is the Keep ‘em Flying Challenge that provides a series of rich prizes to GA pilots who get out and fly this summer.
According to AOPA President Craig Fuller, AOPA’s national challenge is patterned off of a similar state challenge conducted last year in Georgia by the Georgia Air Challenge, which was hosted by the Atlanta Aero Club. That project had 308 participants who flew an estimated 1,500 hours from July 1, 2011, through Aug. 12, 2011. Steve Champness, president of the Atlanta Aero Club, felt the Georgia effort could be expanded, and worked with AOPA to create the national challenge.
In taking the challenge national, AOPA strived to keep it simple, Fuller told reporters at a Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In press conference March 30. The challenge is open to any pilot 19 years old or older of any certificate level, including student pilots. Pilots need only fly as pilot in command for five hours to five airports located at least 50 miles apart—in any kind of aircraft—and take any Air Safety Institute online safety course. Lighter-than-air and glider category aircraft need only fly five flights. All the details are available on the AOPA website.
Those who self-certify their completion of the challenge on AOPA’s website between April 1 and July 31 will be entered into a drawing for cash prizes. First prize is $2,499; second is $1,000; third is $500; and four fourth-place winners will receive $250 each.
“There are many ways for AOPA members to make a difference, including this challenge,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “The more people who fly, and do their part to help others discover the value of general aviation, the easier it will be to ‘ Keep ‘em Flying’ for generations to come.”
Participants will be encouraged to use Facebook and Twitter to post pictures and update their progress. The winners will be announced at the AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, Calif., in October. Prize winners will be required to produce logbooks that verify their entry.
AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines joined AOPA in 1988. He owns and flies a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. Since soloing at 16 and earning a private pilot certificate at 17, he has flown more than 100 models of general aviation airplanes.
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