Creating aviation ambassadors
Flight instructors are often assumed to be aviation ambassadors. Why can¿t student pilots be junior diplomats? CFIs in the course of a career influence the opinion many people have of aviation. The same is true of those we teach to fly. It¿s good diplomacy and good business to start grooming our students early in their training to capably represent aviation.
A good place to begin is with an answer to the question, ¿Is flying safe?¿ You can bet that most students are asked this question. With a cogent reply, your student can prevent or diminish a common misunderstanding about smaller airplanes. What¿s the answer?
I like this response: ¿Given that nearly all general aviation accidents are due to pilot error, flying is as safe as a pilot wants it to be.¿ Bolstering this response with statistics¿from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, for example¿gives it credibility.
You can bet your student-diplomats will also be asked what happens when the engine quits. They can point out that fixed-wing aircraft make thousands of landings daily without using an engine. These aircraft are gliders, which is what an airplane becomes when its engine stops working. Arm your diplomat-in-training with information about glide ratios, and why altitude is a pilot¿s best friend.
The objective is to give your student ammunition to handle the verbal challenges he or she almost inevitably will face about aviation¿s safety and practicality.
Help your student answer the non-flyer¿s most common questions and you help others obtain a better understanding of why we fly airplanes. You¿ll also help your student become a more educated pilot in the process.
By Rod Machado