This day of recognition of aviation was first proclaimed by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. The date was selected because it is the birthday of Orville Wright. There should be plenty of national news media stories about the development of aviation in the United States. National Aviation Day is a nationally sanctioned opportunity to promote interest in aviation. Your opportunity is to increase aviation awareness in your local community and emphasize the important role of your business in training pilots.
Your flight school is an important part of this day. When planning any events at your airport, it is important to let the airport manager know your excitement for a National Aviation Day event. Other flight schools and airport businesses may also want to get involved, and that is a good idea for expanding the event. Keep in mind, what is good for attracting interest to your airport is good for your business. Just remember you need to be the shining star of the event. That is the reason you need to take a lead role in promoting National Aviation Day.
Early in August contact your local TV and radio stations, and newspapers about National Aviation Day on Friday, August 19, 2016. Invite the aviation or science reporter to your flight school for a complimentary flight lesson. If more than one news media personality responds, you can provide a little different twist to your aviation story. For example, you can discuss the fun of flying and the availability of airplanes to rent. Another tactic would be to show off modern airplanes and aerial navigation systems. If your business is oriented toward career pilots, emphasize that most airline pilots begin by flying small general aviation airplanes. Make sure the reporter or photographer gets your company logo in the picture. When a date has been set with a reporter, let your airport manager know about it. He or she will appreciate the public relations for the airport.
In celebration of National Aviation Day, you could consider an introductory flight offer for Friday, August 19, and Saturday, August 20. This special offer could be a discount on the intro flight investment, a free pilot logbook, a discount on a flight training textbook, or whatever attractive offer you can come up with. In association with this special offer you might schedule a public invitation for a “Come Out and Get Acquainted” barbecue late Friday afternoon and/or Saturday noon as a celebration event. This would be a good time to give special recognition to the oldest and youngest pilot who flies with your flight school.
Because there is greater opportunity for people to attend a Saturday event, you could use that day for several special programs. Schedule an airline pilot career day and have an airline pilot and airline hiring representative present. Another program to increase awareness would be a basic learn to fly seminar and an instrument rating seminar. Those seminars should include instructors and students discussing the training requirements. This would also be a good day to schedule an AOPA Rusty Pilots course. If you are interested in this program it needs to be arranged right away; see the AOPA website for details. Any of these programs need to be properly planned and promoted to maximize the number of attendees.
On a larger scale, involve the airport manager and other aviation businesses at your airport for a National Aviation Day Celebration. Interesting aircraft based at your airport, ranging from antique airplanes to business jets and everything in between, could be put on display Friday afternoon and early evening as part of an airport open house. The airport manager could be the focal point for arranging airplanes on the field to do a daisy chain takeoff, flyover, and landing. Ensure that you have a group of safety-oriented pilots plan and brief all those involved.
Have a great day celebrating aviation and a successful flight school business promotion.
Ed Helmick has been a flight instructor since 1988. He formerly managed a flight school in Spanish Fork, Utah, as well as schools in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Honolulu, Hawaii.