By AOPA ePublishing staff
Tired of making the same $100 hamburger trips each weekend? Pilots who fly in Virginia can earn rewards for trying new destinations around the commonwealth as part of the Virginia Aviation Ambassadors Program.
To promote general aviation, the Virginia Department of Aviation rewards pilots who fly to all 66 public-use airports, attend safety seminars and fly-ins, and visit Virginia’s aviation museums.
AOPA member Tom Mahoney has completed the program, earning a leather flight jacket and enjoying a year’s worth of weekend adventures.
“It was great to explore the whole state and land at so many different airports,” Mahoney said. “As pilots we always practice the same approaches at the same airports, but this gave me experience landing in many different environments. Some runways are real narrow, there are a few that aren’t paved, and some sit right on top of mountains. Some are real short, and there’s one you can’t land at.”
Mahoney is referring to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport just outside of Washington, D.C. It’s a public-use airport, but it’s closed to GA traffic, so participating pilots are urged to drive to the airport for a visit.
Mahoney says the program has also proven a great motivator for new pilots he knows. They have used the goal of visiting all of Virginia’s airports to keep them trying new things.
“I’d love to see other states do something similar, even offering a patch or other small incentive,” Mahoney says. “It’s a great way to support GA airports, businesses, and tourism.”
The Virginia Aviation Ambassadors Program has three participation levels and is open to all pilots and passengers. Participants must get a program passport and collect stamps from each location they visit and event they attend. To learn more, visit the Web site.
January 30, 2008