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Banner year for the AOPA Foundation

Thousands of donors support important aviation programs

Helping to ensure a bright future for general aviation through important initiatives that grow the pilot population and help keep it safe, AOPA members and the GA community once again came through in droves.

Greenville Technical Charter High School students surround AOPA High School STEM Curriculum science teacher Doug Adomatis during a hands-on venturi exercise in Greenville, South Carolina, January 22, 2020. Photo by David Tulis.

Between the You Can Fly Challenge window of June 1 and December 31, 2023, more than 2,900 donors gave more than $3.5 million to the AOPA Foundation, unlocking the Ray Foundation’s generous $2.5 million dollar-for-dollar match. In all, the You Can Fly Challenge raised more than $6.2 million to fund these essential AOPA aviation programs that promote and protect GA.

“The generosity of our donors and their shared commitment to general aviation is something we never take for granted, and we are grateful for their support,” said AOPA Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Tennyson. “It is only because of donors to the AOPA Foundation that we can offer You Can Fly programs that get people flying and keep them flying.”

The late James C. Ray was a World War II veteran and a member of the AOPA Foundation New Horizon Society who believed “life skills are learned through aviation.”

The AOPA Foundation’s You Can Fly program comprises four important initiatives: High School Aviation STEM Curriculum, Flight Training, Flying Clubs, and Rusty Pilots.

  • Nearly 23,000 students in 47 states and Washington, D.C., are currently discovering aviation through the High School Aviation STEM Curriculum. To date, more than 71,000 students have earned high school credit through these courses. More than 60 percent of initiative graduates have indicated they are pursuing an aviation career.
  • The AOPA Flight Training Advantage (AFTA) program is making flight training more efficient and transparent with detailed progress reporting, cockpit scoring, and individualized lessons tailored to each student’s strengths. To date, more than 2,110 flight schools and independent certificated flight instructors have signed on, with more than 14,000 training hours logged on AFTA since March 2021.
  • The AOPA Foundation Flying Clubs team has helped launch 241 clubs nationwide, giving thousands of pilots affordable access to aircraft and community.
  • Nearly 13,000 formerly lapsed pilots are back in the flight deck thanks to the help of AOPA’s Rusty Pilots program, designed to make it easy to get back in the air, even after decades away. Since the Rusty Pilots program began 10 years ago, nearly 51,000 pilots have attended more than 1,000 in-person and online seminars.

While the 2023 You Can Fly Challenge is behind us, the need for support continues. Learn about more ways you can donate to the AOPA Foundation and help keep pilots flying safely.

The You Can Fly program and the Air Safety Institute are funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. To be a part of the solution, visit

Alyssa J. Miller

Eric Blinderman

Senior Director of Communications
Eric Blinderman is AOPA’s Senior Director of Communications. Eric joined AOPA in 2020 after several years at leading marketing/communications agencies in New York and is looking forward to putting his newly minted private pilot certificate to work.
Topics: AOPA Foundation, You Can Fly

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