Over the past nine years that I’ve served as AOPA’s media relations director, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Molly McMillin, aviation writer for the Wichita Eagle
newspaper, on a number of stories. I’ve always found her reporting to be insightful and eminently fair. She goes to great lengths to get a story right.
Now she’s gone the extra mile.
Molly recently earned her private pilot certificate, training and taking her checkride in her father’s 1956 Piper Tri-Pacer. She blogged about the experience and the thrill of receiving her permanent certificate – the one with Wilbur and Orville on it – in her Air Capital Insider blog. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/eISHGD.
Molly’s in an enviable position among her fellow reporters – and not just because she’s now a pilot. She covers a beat. Beat reporters get to learn about a particular industry, in Molly’s case aviation, learn who the players are and what issues are important and why. So their stories are often more nuanced and really help their audience understand an issue.
General assignment reporters, on the other hand, have to be instant experts in anything and everything. That can make my job quite challenging sometimes, when dealing with someone whose total aviation experience is riding in seat 17B. By the same token, I see it as an opportunity to expose someone new to aviation in general, and general aviation in particular. Sure, it’s not as good as taking someone up for a flight in a GA plane, but it’s a chance to increase understanding and maybe burnish the image of GA a little among the non-flying public.
Occasionally we get very lucky and hear from a reporter who has some experience with general aviation, or if we really hit the jackpot, one who’s a pilot, like Molly.
If you’re a pilot, you can help share the knowledge by taking a reporter flying. If you’ve never taken someone up for an introductory flight, AOPA has a brochure called Take ‘Em Flying! that offers some ideas.
Who knows? Your efforts might lead to better coverage the next time a small plane becomes the big story in your community. You might even plant a seed that grows into a new pilot! Like Molly!
AOPA Media Relations Director