Last month we talked about airport days, charitable events such as Toys for Tots, and Fly-In Movie Night as ways to get the public out to your local airport. This month we will follow up with part two focusing on some more complex strategies that will yield even better results.
Young Aviator Camp: Approach your local YMCA, Parks and Recreation, or Boys and Girls Club and ask about putting on a day camp for children. Most airports have a green space, campground or empty hangar that can be used as a classroom area. Topics could include: What is General Aviation?, Fundamentals of Flight, Basic Navigation, Mechanics, How to Become a Pilot, Careers in Aviation, and Charitable Flying.
Young Eagles: EAA chapters have a tremendous amount of impact on the youth in our local communities when they hold a Young Eagles day. EAA Chapter 92’s Robert Baker reports on their recent Saturday event, “Fantastic day at Chino today. Beautiful weather, beautiful kids and parents, the beautiful Planes of Fame Air Museum and especially our awesome beautiful EAA 92 Ground Crew and Pilots. We really showed our passion for aviation, educating and flying over 60 Young Eagles and chapter friends.” You will be tired after a day-long event like this, that takes weeks to plan. But you will be what I call “happy-tired.”
Public Radio and Television: Public radio and television are oftentimes overlooked by those of us in general aviation, yet they are constantly on the look out for community based stories. Why not contact your local station about an upcoming event at your airport? EAA 92 mentioned above, had their Young Eagles event filmed for an upcoming segment on PBS.
4-H Aero, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts: Both Boy and Girl Scouts have merit badges in Aviation. Why not offer a daylong workshop to help the kids get their badges?
Service Club Speaker: Why not talk with your local service club, or chamber of commerce about using YOU as a speaker? This is a perfect opportunity to talk with a captive audience about the value of general aviation and general aviation airports.
Emergency Responder Appreciation Event: Each of our communities have unsung heroes. Our local emergency responders might love to come to the airport for an Appreciation Event. Why not have a pancake breakfast, spaghetti feed, or burger fry and invite your local ambulance, search and rescue, law enforcement pilots, fire fighters and other emergency responders. If you don’t feel like cooking, perhaps speak to your local Rotary, Lions Club, American Legion, Masons or Elks Club about cooking.
School Assemblies: Elementary schools have requirements about science education. Aviation falls into that category. Why not talk with your local principal about doing a fundamentals of flight assembly for your local school? You could have RC models to illustrate lift, thrust, drag and gravity. Perhaps you could show our promotional video “What is General Aviation?” End your presentation with ways that the children can come to your airport. Remember children, bring their parents!
Becoming a living definition of General Aviation
In order to promote General Aviation, we need to define it for the non-flying public effectively. It is very important to be positive and focus on the ways that G.A. helps our communities and our citizens. When I meet someone at a Mooney Ambassador event I ask if they are a pilot, or know a pilot. If not a pilot, I ask if they ever wanted to learn how to fly. If yes, have they made steps toward learning, and if not, why not? Even those folks who do not wish to become pilots would benefit from knowing how General Aviation affects them on a daily basis.
Do Something! “That’ll Never Happen Here” is something that I hear a lot. Whether “that” is an airport closure, runway closure, or flight restriction, we need to be on guard for apathy in our pilot population. What is the opposite of Apathy? Passion! Mobilize volunteers, organize and overcome apathy. Please make a commitment today to inspire the love of flight.