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12 Ideas You Can Use to Promote GA
In the grand scheme of things, most of these ideas won’t really move the needle. We need solutions to several very large issues, but my goal is offer some relatively simple things we can do individually to promote General Aviation.
Incrementally, if we all took up the challenge, we might make a dent, in spite of all the adversity GA faces today.
Talk about flying – Testifying about how awesome flying is can really bring out the latent interest in a person. Now you can be obnoxious about this to complete non-believers, but they weren’t going to be converted anyway so who cares. Usually I don’t have to even bring it up, friends and family routinely ask me questions about flying as small talk. Doesn’t get an easier than this and it costs you nothing.
Give rides – This will cost you money, but it will really sets the hook if they are even remotely inclined to explore aviation. My best recommendation is to target the folks who are most likely to convert and then work your way to the fringe. Young Eagles rides are really great and it’s an amazing program, but our local chapter sees a lot of “free amusement ride” patrons who aren’t likely to ever fly recreationally.
Organize an event – This takes some energy, but what better way than to have an open house, or a fly-in to bring Joe Q. Public out to mix with the aviators. Kills two birds with one stone because it gives existing flyers a venue to ply their craft and it potentially introduces newbies to the equation.
Youth outreach – Like I said, Young Eagles is awesome, but we should be more targeted. Maybe volunteer to speak for a group of students about aviation or lecture at a scout event. You don’t need to be a professional pilot to talk about flying as long as you do your homework.
Volunteer – Working to support your local aviation events is a great way to promote aviation. It is leading by example and providing that synergy that is desperately needed in the GA scene. Remember a crowd draws a crowd, so the more folks that are out there with their sleeves rolled up, the better.
Use social media – This is so easy, but often overlooked, especially by the over 40 crowd who might be slow to adopt the benefits of the internet. My personal Facebook account has a good balance of interests, but I never leave out flying. You can’t predict where inspiration will come from and who it will reach. It takes almost no effort and it can be very effective.
Be nice – This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway; if you are going to be an ambassador of this sport, you shouldn’t be a tool. Nothing turns people away faster than an exclusive, click-ish, boys club. We need to be warm and inviting to newcomers. If someone comes into the local FBO or hangout, be quick to make introductions and include them in the conversations. The same goes for cyberspace. I’m amazed at the number of jerks in the aviation forums – doesn’t represent the true spirit of aviation.
Mentor someone – If you have some experience, don’t be afraid to share it. We haven’t done a good job of passing the torch in this way. I was very lucky to have two wonderful mentors that still help me today. It is a great thing to be able to help someone who is just learning and really set them up for success.
Lend a helping hand – If you see someone who needs a hand, jump in there. Could be helping them change their oil or learning crosswind landings. Obviously, you shouldn’t provide expertise you don’t have, but sometimes just someone to listen or hold a wrench is all that’s required. This all about supporting each other. Again this is leadership by example and helps to build our community by being there for each other.
Be an airport bum – To the extent possible, hang out at the airport. Don’t just show up, go fly and split. Be a part of the social mix and let folks in on what you are doing. We are a fraternity, nay a family, so we should endeavor to emulate that experience for ourselves and others. It makes flying that much richer.
Do something extraordinary – Nothing inspires someone to greatness like seeing someone else’s extraordinary accomplishments. This raises the bar and causes others to push themselves farther. I have seen it many times where a group of private pilots will all start instrument training as soon as the one of them sets out on that journey – it’s inspiring to see someone set a goal and then achieve it. Doesn’t have to be a solo around the world flight either.
Advocate for GA by joining groups like AOPA and EAA that help protect our rights to fly. Also, be politically active on a local and national level. Write your representatives, go to public meeting that are related to flying. This is a very important piece in promoting and protecting our rights to fly.
I hope that you can take a few of these ideas and put them into practice. General Aviation faces many challenges and as such we need to do our part to incrementally offset the negative.
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