Let’s introduce adults to aviation

Bob Kirkby


Recently a friend of mine told me about a plan he has for a “Fly a Friend” day. He is just beginning to organize this event for his COPA Flight to take place early this summer. It will be conducted along the lines of the COPA For Kids events but instead of young people the target audience will be middle- aged people who have an interest in aviation.

The intent is two-fold. First it will give people with an interest in Personal Aviation an opportunity to go for a ride and learn a little about flying and small aircraft, at no cost. Second it is hoped some will join the local Flight and COPA, thus becoming involved in what we do and perhaps going on to take some flight training.

This is not a new idea but it is one that seems to be catching on. I know of a number of Flights and flying clubs that do this and we are seeing a large movement in the U.S. to encourage pilots and clubs to introduce adults to aviation in the hopes of growing our numbers.

In my July 2007 column I wrote about the need to attract the 45-55 age group to aviation for that very reason. I selected this age group after studying Canadian population charts in which the baby-boom population wave makes such a striking impression.

Although people in their early 60s now are at the leading edge of the boomers, that population cohort continues to increase for about 10 years. It peaks with people that are in their early 50s now. After that the peak lasts for about another 10 years until the population starts to drop off again, rather dramatically.

So doing what we can to introduce these middle-aged folks to the thrill of flying can probably produce the best shortterm results for increasing our pilot numbers.

These are the folks that are approaching the time in their life where they can spend a little extra time and money on something they might have found intriguing for years.

If your Flight is contemplating doing something like this read our “Guide to COPA for Kids” on the COPA website. It contains many applicable safety procedures and minimum requirements that will help you run a safe event.

I would be interested in hearing from COPA Flights and clubs that are actively promoting the “Fly a Friend” event idea. Let me know what you do now. All great things start small.

Meanwhile, keep your prop spinning.