Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

AOPA Project Pilot

AOPA Project Pilot provides members with the tools to find viable flight-training candidates and support them as student pilots with the wisdom and encouragement of experienced pilots through mentoring. A student with a Project Pilot Mentor is three times more likely to successfully complete his or her training.

AOPA Project Pilot provides members with the tools to find viable flight-training candidates and support them as student pilots with the wisdom and encouragement of experienced pilots through mentoring. A student with a Project Pilot Mentor is three times more likely to successfully complete his or her training. This exciting program is available free to all AOPA members. You don't have to be a CFI to participate. All it takes is someone who wants to share the joy of general aviation and a few minutes a week to help a student along (

A message from Erik Lindbergh

Last month I received an advance manuscript of Sarah Susanka's new book The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters for the purpose of writing an endorsement. Susanka is a brilliant architect who has changed much of the dialog in the design community by emphasizing quality over quantity. In her new book she applies her "not so big" house philosophy to how we inhabit each moment of our lives — taking our finger off the fast-forward button and truly being with that which "moves" us. As a result, we show up more completely in our lives, enjoying each moment. One of the stories in the book reminded me of a theme that I see often. Susanka relates working with a couple who had worked hard all their lives saving for their golden years. Even though they had passed their retirement age, they continued to work. Their wake-up call was the sudden death of a dear friend who was also working hard so that he could live out his later years with comfort and security. The abrupt realization that there weren't any guarantees of living to see any golden years prompted them to reassess their priorities and start living each day to the fullest.

Although most people reading this have probably already turned their dreams of flight into reality, I often hear people I meet say, "I've always wanted to learn how to fly!" Then they follow with, "Once I [insert reason — have more time, have enough money, get the kids through college, get a promotion] then I will learn to fly." This is the ideal time to get philosophical on them and point out that they are in ultimate control of their destiny and should follow their passion instead of putting it off for the illusory promise of "the right time." There is an old saying aimed at young married couples that says if you wait for the "right time" to have kids, you will never have them! So the next time you hear people say they have always wanted to learn how to fly, tell them you will help them by either being or finding a Mentor for them — all they have to do is set the intention and commit to the journey. And what an incredible journey it is.

Erik Lindbergh
AOPA Project Pilot spokesman

$1,000 for avgas

AOPA is giving away $1,000 to four lucky AOPA Project Pilot Mentors this year. How about you? Use the prize money for avgas, rental fees, maintenance, tiedown fees, or anything you want. You are automatically entered when you submit the name of the student pilot you are going to mentor throughout his or her flight training. One Mentor will win each quarter. Drawings will be held quarterly; the earlier in the year you sign up a student, the better your chances of winning. Mentoring is fun, it's free, it's easy, and it takes less time than you may think. The benefits are great for you and the future pilot you help. Visit the Web site.

Become an AOPA Project Pilot mentor! If you're ready to encourage someone who wants to become a pilot, then you're ready to become an AOPA Project Pilot Mentor. Visit the Web site to enroll yourself and a student pilot nominee who has the time, the resources, and the desire to learn to fly.

Success Story

Now I know what an expectant father must feel like when he is in the waiting room. After a long day of a split checkride, my student, Ryan Blackley, AOPA 5737351, landed just after sunset and passed his private pilot practical exam.

We arrived early in the morning for the oral exam, and we knew there was a possibility that he might not be able to do the flight portion of the checkride until the afternoon because of some other commitments that the designated examiner had. After the oral, which involved some breakfast from the airport diner, we found out that the examiner, in fact, would have to leave for a while. So this gave my student a chance to run home and relax a little.

Later that afternoon the examiner met us back at the airport and started the flight portion of the checkride. After seeing them off, I paced on the ramp as I watched them go through a handful of landings. Once they departed for the practice area, I went up to the tower to watch where they were and to see when they were headed back to the airport (not to mention that it was warmer in the tower).

After about 45 minutes or so, they called the tower and were headed back in.

I thanked the tower guys for their hospitality and ran out to the ramp to meet the airplane. Not wanting to encounter an awkward moment, I helped tie down the aircraft and waited to hear the good or bad news from the examiner. It wasn't long before he told me that he'd meet us over at the FBO to do some paperwork. I asked, "Good paperwork or bad paperwork?"

"Good paperwork," was his reply. "He did a good job."

With that, congratulations were exchanged and we snapped a couple of pictures before heading inside where it was warmer. It has been a great experience helping someone get his certificate and seeing him get bit by the aviation bug.

My student commented to me a few weeks ago that in the past, he never looked up when an airplane flew overhead. Now at the first sound of an airplane, his head is on a swivel. He made this comment as we were talking in a parking lot, and right after he said it an airplane flew overhead and both of us craned skyward to see where it was heading. Yep, he's completely infected like the rest of us.

Thanks for AOPA Project Pilot. It's a great program. Now it's time to start looking for student number two!

Cory Wolf AOPA 1277478
Syracuse, Utah

We welcome your photos. Although we can't guarantee publication, we encourage you to e-mail photos to [email protected] or call 800/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672). For more information or to nominate someone for AOPA Project Pilot, please go to the Web site.

Related Articles