If you have wanted to support AOPA and help our efforts to boost the pilot population through the You Can Fly program, now is the time to act.
The Ray Foundation, established by the late James C. Ray, has issued a matching challenge to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization. The Ray Foundation will give $1.4 million to the AOPA Foundation for You Can Fly initiatives after we raise another $1.4 million in contributions by July 25.
You Can Fly is entirely donor funded and supports four initiatives—high school aviation STEM education, flight training, flying clubs, and rusty pilots—each designed to get people flying and keep them flying.
“There’s no single solution to the pilot population crisis. To turn things around, we need to create more pilots, build a stronger community, make flying more accessible, and keep licensed pilots flying,” said Katie Pribyl, AOPA senior vice president, aviation strategy and programs. “You Can Fly works because it addresses all these challenges. We’re helping prepare high schoolers for aviation careers. We’re working with flight schools to improve the training experience. We’re creating affordable access to aircraft and building communities of pilots through flying clubs. And we’re helping lapsed pilots get back in the air.”
We are bridging the gap in aviation youth education and have created an aviation-based, ninth-grade science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum to engage students and help build the future of aviation. The ninth-grade courses are the first of a four-year program that includes three career and technical education pathways—pilot, aerospace engineering, and drones. About 30 high schools across the country are already field-testing the curriculum with more than 700 students. Each year, we will launch a new grade level of courses for schools. In addition, the high school initiative offers scholarships to help young men and women pursue their dreams of becoming a pilot.
Our Flight Training initiative seeks to change the training paradigm by helping flight schools understand why dropout rates are so high and then giving them the tools, information, and support they need to create an experience their students will love and want to continue. AOPA’s Flight Training Experience Awards recognize the best flight schools and instructors in the country.
Flying clubs are a familiar model that can address many of the issues GA faces—affordability, access to aircraft, and comradery. Our Flying Club initiative offers pilots help to form or find a flying club, a resource library, access to networking events, and more.
Most pilots who have stopped flying for one reason or another plan to get back into flying. We created the Rusty Pilots program to lower the barrier to re-entry and provide lapsed pilots a way to return to flying in a matter of hours. Rusty Pilots seminars are hosted across the country. Nearly 40 percent of those who attend a Rusty Pilots seminar complete their flight review and return to the air as pilot in command.