By AOPA Communications staff
Just days after AOPA President Phil Boyer’s open letter to members appeared in the May issue of AOPA Pilot seeking any and all ideas to halt the decline in the pilot population, members responded in droves.
The magazine, which reached many members’ homes on April 14, featured an appeal from Boyer to “take five minutes and tell me what you’d do” to arrest the decline through a short online survey. By Wednesday evening, the association had already received more than 600 pages of high-quality opinions and ideas.
“It is exciting to see members so actively engaged in this critical issue,” said Boyer. “People are responding to the survey with a wealth of ideas and viewpoints, and they’re not holding back.
“And while I am truly thrilled by this initial response, I’m am not surprised. Our members have always been the best at giving us their opinions and support. My hope is that members will keep the information and ideas coming. The more information we have, the better we can tackle this problem that threatens the very heart of aviation.”
Members from across the country are making their opinions heard. Commenting on why people don’t fly, one member from California expressed a hopeful tone stating, “My life motto has been ‘In life we regret the things we don’t do, not the things we have done.’”
However, another from Connecticut lamented, “People today are watchers, not doers.”
Others spoke to the benefits of learning to fly: “[It] is a challenge that is a worthwhile endeavor...like climbing a mountain,” said a member from Colorado.
Other ideas have included an AOPA first flight program, AOPA Days at local airports nationwide, and even an aviation-related reality TV show.
“We are getting some fantastic insights into the problem and some really great possible solutions,” said Karen Gebhart, AOPA executive vice president of communications, who is heading the research effort. “Reading the verbatims, I cannot help but get excited that we’re on the right track. We kept the questions very opened-ended to elicit great ideas—this isn’t like picking off a menu—and I think we’ve achieved that.
“We’re going to keep the survey up for at least 30 days, so keep the ideas coming. Together, we can find the answer!”
April 17, 2008