For the third year running, Cessna Aircraft Co. is sponsoring its Discover Flying Challenge, nationwide tours by six college-age interns flying brand-new, personalized Cessna 172S Skyhawks to spread their enthusiasm for, among other things, learning to fly. Day to day progress for each of the pilots can be tracked on the Open Airplane website.
“The purpose of our Discover Flying Challenge is to promote aviation and flight training across the country,” said Joe Hepburn, Textron Aviation senior vice president, piston aircraft. “But we’re not limiting their planned stops to established Cessna Pilot Centers. These enthusiastic pilots will be visiting many flight schools and FBOs as well as public and aviation-specific events in all parts of the country to help spread the passion of flying.” Pre-arranged publicity at some locations will include interviews with local radio, TV, and newspaper reporters.
Each pilot will show off his or her new Skyhawk at 10 or 11 of 62 total planned stops in 30 states, although Cessna has already received requests to add stops and expects that the pilots will have covered most states by the end of the challenge. Hepburn said that interested flight schools may inquire by email.
At each landing site, the pilots are offering discovery flights in cooperation with the local FBO or flight school, hoping the flights will inspire individuals to become pilots themselves. Each pilot has full information available for interested guests about Cessna’s Authorized Sales Associates (ASRs), Cessna Pilot Centers (CPCs) and product information pointing prospects to the appropriate contact.
Hepburn said the eight Discover Flying Challenge participants were selected from a well-qualified pool of applicants that gave Cessna the ability to select “the best of the best,” with an eye toward future employment by Cessna.
Six of the eight participants—five men and one woman—launched from Cessna headquarters in Wichita on June 10 with a synchronized engine start, each with an itinerary that will last through the end of July. The two other Cessna interns are dispatching and coordinating the flights.
The adventures of this year’s Discover Flying Challenge pilots are being chronicled on Facebook, and with regular Twitter commentary via @cessna with the #DFC14 hashtag.