Spreading goodwill to your community will return it to your airport – Let’s face it: As pilots we need to become ambassadors for general aviation. If we don’t who will? The media often portrays the GA pilot population as privileged, elitist, and rich. Most of us know that is simply not the case. We have actively made choices to support our passion, perhaps forgoing a new SUV for a vintage Piper, Beech, or Cessna.
We all can do something to help promote GA and serve our communities by creating charitable events at our airports, or adding a charitable element to an existing aviation event.
Here are some tips for creating a charitable event or helping an existing cause.
- Identify community need: Look around your community and identify what community groups or causes need help. Possibilities include a local food bank, humane society, Girl Scouts, elementary school, community service group, or charity.
- Contact community leads: Once you identify the need, locate community leaders in that area. A quick trip to their website will provide you with initial contact information. You also can see what standing events or fundraisers they might have. Contact the community leaders and let them know you would like to be of service.
- Offer your airport as a way to meet needs: Many charities need a venue for their event. Why not offer your airport? For example, if you identify that the local food bank needs more donations, you might offer to have a drive-in, walk-in, or fly-in food drive at your airport. This sort of coordination with other local charities helps to increase visibility for them and for your airport. It feels good to help others, and in turn, we put a compassionate human face on GA.
- Work with the owner of your airport: A city, municipality, county, or airport district might own your airport. As the lead person, you will have to coordinate your efforts with the owner of your airport. An airport owner can have justifiable concerns about liability or risk. Risk is something we know about as pilots. When we fly, we mitigate risk. We have recurrent training, good maintenance, and an emergency plan. You can do the same for your events, to lessen risk. Life is risky but we cannot let fear of risk stop us from having fun times at our airports. AOPA offers a wonderful resource on having an event at your airport.
- Publicize the event through community service groups, news, and social media: Publicize your event in multiple ways. Do not forget your local television and radio stations, including public radio. Websites, forums, type clubs, and email listservs are also a great way to spread the word. Social media like Facebook and Twitter are very helpful too. In a way, the Internet has made the world a smaller place. Add to that an airplane, and pilots might be able to attend an event in a neighboring state, if they know about it.
Be enthusiastic, it is contagious:
- A positive attitude will serve you well in adding service to your event. There are always those who say, “That can’t be done,” but pilots know different. Pilots are can-do people. Remember, we are the face of GA.