Help save GA by filling your right seat with future aviators - Airplanista Aviation Magazine Monthly Column

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This aviation magazine article was originally published in the October, 2011 issue of Airplanista Magazine. You can view the original story in our digital aviation magazine here.

by Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Editor

We’ve all seen that table full of senior pilots at the local airport cafe, chatting while they solve all of the world’s problems. Each one has a different story to tell. Some might be veterans, others are retired line pilots. One guy might have built numerous experimental ships, or a lady seated there might own a few Women’s Air Race trophies.

While it’s true this group has answers for nearly every aviation question, but none of them have successfully found a way to stop time.

As these senior pilots age out altogether and lose their FAA medical privileges, it is of critical importance that a new crop of young, active pilots are being licensed at the opposite end of the private pilot age envelope. If we are to maintain the numbers of licensed pilots in our aviation family, it is vital that we keep the best and brightest young people coming into the system at least as fast as the seniors pilots are closing their logbooks...forever.

This “churn rate” of one pilot in, one pilot out can be best maintained when we expose kids to flying early in their life, so that their dreams to fly can be realized as they mature into adults. The best program to achieve that goal is EAA’s Young Eagles, a wonderfully efficient endeavor that has introduced flying to 1.6 million kids.

In this issue, you will meet one of those Young Eagles who will be joining us in the sky as soon as she possibly can. I met Amy Jens Hansen at AirVenture this summer, and I was impressed by the articulate ease in which she could describe her passion for flying. She will fill the spot in our pilot population vacated as a senior stick is relegated to full-time passenger status, this I guarantee you. But if the future of aviation in this country is to have a fighting chance, we need 1,000s of boys and girls like Amy all gazing skyward with that look in their eyes that we once had, and the fire in their souls we pilots all have.

As you read these articles in this issue, think about what YOU are doing to introduce young people to flying. If you’ve taken a future aviator flying recently, you can call yourself an Airplanista.

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