Eleven AOPA volunteer pilots using nine aircraft flew 173 people at the annual Learn to Fly Day June 7 in Frederick, Md. The event was co-sponsored by Frederick Municipal Airport.
The reaction to the free discovery flights was overwhelmingly positive, and slots were filled by 10 a.m. Alexandra Duckworth, age 15, and her mother, Gala, learned about the event through the local newspaper. “The flight was excellent and a lot of fun,” said Duckworth. “I got to fly a little, and the pilot explained all the controls.”
Shuaib Syed, age 10, and Gabriel Khewaja, age 9, were still excited after their flight. “It was amazing. My pilot did a cool turning maneuver,” said Syed. “And my friend Gabriel actually flew the plane.”
Khewaja said he felt like a real pilot during his flight in a Cessna 172. “I saw grass, cars, highways, and a lot of trees. The view was great,” he said. While Khewaja said he would like to become a pilot, Syed said he would fly again but didn’t want to become a pilot.
Lisa Deener saw an ad in the newspaper about Learn To Fly Day. “We got here at 8:45 [a.m.] to make sure we got a spot. It was the most exciting thing I’ve done in a long time,” she said. “Flying over the quarry was great. It was just the feeling of doing something that very few people get to do was exciting. I’m hoping one of my two kids will be a pilot someday.”
Ivan Smith enjoyed his first flight in a general aviation aircraft. “It was awesome, especially taking off and landing,” he said. “I helped keep the plane steady. I’d do it again, and definitely want to learn how to fly.”
Jim Piccirilli, the new owner of the Frederick Flight Center, had a display tent in the middle of the static display. “I think the event went great. I wasn’t there, but everyone I spoke with after said it was a positive experience,” he said. “And we got 32 emails from people who want more information about learning how to fly.”
The free daylong event was created to introduce the local community near AOPA to general aviation. it featured the AOPA Jay desktop simulator, a static aircraft display, and aviation activities for children. Vendors in attendance included the Civil Air Patrol, the Tailwinds over Frederick hot air balloon company, and The Ninety-Nines.