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Buddy systemBuddy system

Join a social group, find a flying companion, volunteer at aviation eventsJoin a social group, find a flying companion, volunteer at aviation events

One of the most enjoyable aspects of general aviation is sharing it with others—whether taking passengers up for their first flights, flying with another pilot, participating in a fly-out, or attending or volunteering at aviation events. Having a strong community of aviators by your side is one way to ensure you stay actively motivated to fly. Here are some tips to get connected with your local community and with pilot communities online.

Create a flying network around you so that you always have people around who encourage you to fly, or better yet, who want to go flying with you! Photo by Mike Fizer.

Join a social group. Whether it is a flying club, the local chapter of any number of national aviation organizations, a type club, or an online group, stay connected with other pilots. At your local airport, check bulletin board announcements; visit with pilots hanging out at their hangars; or check in with the local fixed-base operator, flight school, airport association, or airport manager to find out what groups are at your home base. These groups often plan activities such as safety presentations, fly-outs, cookouts, open houses, and more. Online aviation groups and type club forums are another way to connect with pilots and learn more about the kind of aircraft you fly. Meetups at national events like the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, Florida, and EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, often start online. Some online communities have regular get-togethers to socialize and fly in person.

Find a flying companion. Whether this person is a pilot or an aviation enthusiast, having someone to fly with makes going up for a sunset flight or attending an aviation event more enjoyable. He or she also could encourage you to fly more than you would by yourself, kind of like meeting a buddy at the gym (but this is way more fun). In addition, the two of you can dream up aviation adventures and work toward making them a reality. If you are both pilots, you can take turns flying together to boost each other’s proficiency.

Volunteers made safe, efficient operations possible, and this crew took time out to show some pride during the 2015 AOPA Fly-In at the association's home in Frederick, Maryland.

Volunteer at aviation events. Aviation enthusiasts, student pilots, and pilots of all skill levels can volunteer to help at aviation events. Volunteering helps you meet other pilots and gets you close to the action with a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to pull off an aviation event. Major events like Sun ‘n Fun or EAA AirVenture are excellent places to volunteer, meet other pilots, and learn about cool aircraft ranging from aerobatic aircraft to vintage warbirds. You might even make some connections that lead to a flight in one of those aircraft later on. Other events such as AOPA’s Regional Fly-Ins or fly-ins and open houses at your home base offer additional opportunities for you to get connected.

So, develop your buddy system, expand your social aviation network, and enjoy flying in the GA community.

Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Cobb

AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Cobb has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.
Topics: Pilot Training and Certification, Pilots, Airshow

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