It’s easy to forget, when flying is your job, what it was like to fly purely for fun. That first lesson in a piston airplane is almost certainly a lasting memory, but a few thousand hours in more complex cockpits can make flying seem more like work, and make general aviation procedures and airplanes feel a bit foreign. AOPA has created a new program to help professional pilots make an easy transition back to flying for fun.
The “Back to Your Roots” program is being developed to address issues uncovered by research. AOPA Director of Marketing Lauren Otto said many focus group participants reported that the desire to fly small piston aircraft was strong, but years away from this kind of flying had left them rusty on the fine points of flying small airplanes, or how or where to find rental aircraft on a day off from work, or even basic VFR procedures. “All of this stuff they learned at the very, very beginning,” Otto said.
Otto said helping professional pilots return to flying for the sake of fun is a win-win that will help build the GA community, and GA activity. While the numbers may not be huge, there are many pilots flying for airlines, corporate flight departments, or charter operators who yearn for the simple pleasure of sightseeing or landing on turf, perhaps for some backcountry fishing.
AOPA plans to offer the program at major airshows and other events in the future.