Whether you are a seasoned pilot or a new one, you probably remember that day you decided to try flying. Had you always looked skyward and wondered what it would be like to fly an airplane as you listened to a general aviation aircraft buzz through the sky? Had you marveled at the aerobatics at airshows and thought I can do that? Did a passing hot air balloon capture your imagination? Were you one of the lucky who had family or friends in aviation and they introduced you to the utility and convenience of flying without an airline ticket? Or did you stop by your local airport and follow the “Learn to Fly Here” signs?
Whatever the means or ways you got to flying, you know one thing for sure—it changed your life. For most Americans, those who don’t fly or haven’t been exposed to general aviation, they don’t know the feeling. So although it’s nice to be a member of such an exclusive club, the fact is that not having others share your passion could mean the continuing decline of the pilot population and the possibility of restrictions on your flying. There’s strength in numbers, and the more pilots we have—the more passionate pilots we have—the more secure aviation is in this country.
AOPA has launched its most ambitious pilot recruitment initiative in its 70-year history—Let’s Go Flying. Its mission is to identify and engage more student pilots, reverse the student pilot attrition rate, and grow the general aviation pilot population. In a recent survey, we identified 750,000 people who indicated they were “interested” in learning to fly. So here’s what we’re doing: We’re engaging them with an exciting Web site, video-sharing, social networking, and blogs. We’re helping by backing efforts to provide introductory flights at airports. We’re presenting programs and benefits to offer additional support for student pilots to help them complete their training. We’re expanding our public relations program to include high-profile stories with prominent placement in magazines and television. We’re connecting people to flying clubs.
And this is just the beginning. Look on these pages in upcoming issues of AOPA Pilot for more ways we can help promote flying and general aviation in this country.
What can you do? Make the first step by visiting the Let’s Go Flying Web site—and share it with a friend, or two.