Field guides for flight training success

October 10, 2012

Pilots love checklists. We study them, memorize them, and live by them. That’s why AOPA chose a checklist format for its new Field Guide to Flight Training designed to help students, flight instructors, and flight schools follow methods to help ensure students’ success.

The guides, small enough to fit in a flight bag or brief case and specifically targeting the student, instructor, or school, incorporate 47 key factors that research shows will increase a student’s likelihood of sticking with flight training to earn a pilot certificate. That’s critical considering the training industry faces an 80 percent dropout rate, and student pilot and private pilot certificate issuances dropped 40 percent and 64 percent, respectively, between 1990 and 2010.

field guide to flight training

As part of the association’s ongoing flight training initiative, the field guides, released to the public Oct. 10 during the Flight Training Summit in Palm Springs, Calif., have the backing of the newly created Center to Advance the Pilot Community. More than 100 flight training professionals worked through the guides during a breakout session at the summit to brainstorm ways to incorporate them in their businesses and teaching techniques.

“You have been with us in a process we are very excited about,” AOPA President Craig Fuller told the group before the breakout session. This is the third year of the Flight Training Summit, and many of the 100 in attendance had participated in the event before to help improve the training process.

AOPA worked with IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm that specializes in human factors and changing behaviors, to produce the guides. IDEO has helped groups in the healthcare and adult education arenas develop methods to increase people’s success on long-term goals such as battling chronic illnesses, weight loss, and earning a new degree or making a career change. That experience suited them to the flight training process, which requires a long-term time and financial commitment.

The Field Guide to Flight Training can be purchased through Amazon or AOPA’s website. The guides are available for three audiences—students, instructors, and flight schools—but AOPA encourages pilots to purchase the student guide and share it with those who may be interested in learning to fly or those who are already in training.