Erik Lindbergh and AirShares CEO David Lee
AOPA last month formally challenged the nation's pilots to inspire others to learn to fly through the enhanced Project Pilot program. More than 1,000 have answered the call already.
Now a private company is the first to answer the challenge with dollars - $100,000!
AirShares Elite Inc., a professionally managed, shared ownership program operating nearly 50 aircraft across the country, is offering its 230 owner-pilots $100,000 worth of free flight time to use while actively mentoring new pilots. AirShares CEO David Lee hopes his customers will use the incentive to "bring those people in who come to us wanting to know more about aviation."
"When I learned that the pilot population had declined by 25 percent over the past 25 years, I knew that we had to inspire more people to move from being wannabe pilots to gottabe pilots," said Lee.
AirShares Elite hopes that after a pilot candidate flies in one of its fleet's technically advanced Cirrus SR22s, they too will be moved by the excitement, safety, and benefits that only GA can add to both personal and business lifestyles.
"Using the great tools available through Project Pilot, we want to enable all of our owners to each convert at least one new prospect into a successful student pilot as well as challenge other aviation companies to step forward and support such a worthwhile cause," Lee said.
"Every one of us with a passion for flying has an obligation to help reverse this trend," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "For AOPA, the world's largest aviation association, that means putting all we have behind the new Project Pilot."
At the forefront of the program with Boyer is AOPA Project Pilot Spokesman Erik Lindbergh, pilot and grandson of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
"Imagine where we could take general aviation if each one of us who flies found just one more pilot to take to the skies," said Lindbergh. "In a few short years, we could double the number of pilots - to more than one million. We would all benefit with lower costs and greater clout when it counts.
"We need everyone to meet the call of this obligation. No one organization or person can do it alone."
"We applaud AirShares Elite for stepping forward to help keep GA strong and growing," said Jeff Myers, executive vice president of communications for AOPA with responsibility for the Project Pilot program. "AirShares Elite is a wonderful example of how each of us can use the resources at our fingertips, to support the GA of today and tomorrow."
July 27, 2006