by Jolie Lucas Calpilots Vice President Region 4
That’ll Never Happen Here” is something that we 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, organize and overcome apathy.
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. Everyone would benefit from knowing how General Aviation affects him or her on a daily basis. Here's some ways GA touches our lives:
Emergency Response - Highway Patrol, Search and Rescue, Firefighting, Pipeline Patrol, Police
Fed Ex/UPS - Have you ever gotten a package from them? Most likely an airport played a critical role in your package arriving in a timely manner.
Charitable Flying - LightHawk, Pilots and Paws, Angel Flight, Flying Doctors, Flying Samaritans and more
Search and Rescue
Air Shows and Races
Flying for Fun
Flying for Healthcare
Media Flying - Movie Making, news reporting, photography, advertising and marketing, traffic control and safety.
Think about your home airport and ways that you can make it a good neighbor in your community. The better community partner an airport is, the more protected it is from encroachment. Here's some ideas that can make your home airport an asset to the community:
Airport Day - Does your local airport have a Celebration Day, Airport Day or Open House? Perhaps your airport used to have an event, but not now? Bring back the fun to the airport.
Toys for Tots - A lovely way to bring the community to your airport is to have a Toys for Tots event. Contact your local T4T/Marine Corps and talk with them about the idea. At our airport, folks drive in, walk in or fly in bringing new unwrapped toys. We have folks put the toys around their airplane and have the Marine Corp representative collect toys as well. Our event is the first Saturday in December. This past year we invited a Model A car club. They displayed about 12 Model A’s and brought toys for the children. We had a quintets playing Christmas music and had great BBQ available. [It helps to live at the Beach]. Due to increased need for programs like Toys for Tots, the 13 boxes of toys and several hundred dollars donated helped our local kids directly. They received three toys under the tree instead of two.
Fly-In Movie Night - Fly-in, walk-in, drive in, it doesn’t matter! If you have a hangar, campground or open area you can host a Fly-In movie night. We suggest the event be free of charge. Offer hot dogs, popcorn, and s’mores on a donation basis. Show a family-friendly movie that has an aviation theme.
Young Aviator Camp - Why not approach your local YMCA, Parks and Rec, or Boys and Girls Club and ask about putting on a day camp for children. Here are some topics to include: What is General Aviation?, Fundamentals of Flight, Basic Navigation, Mechanics, How to Become a pilot and Careers in aviation.
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? Girl Scouts with Wings just took place at Oceano Airport, 36 girls enjoyed the daylong event that was sponsored by our local 99s group.
“Learn to Fly” Day - Take someone for an orientation ride. Introduce someone to a flight instructor.
Sponsor an Airport open house, fly-in breakfast, or mall show.
Conduct an Aviation Presentation to another organization.
Host a program swap with other organizations (e.g. a model airplane club).
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. Perhaps speak to your local Rotary, Lions Club, American Legion, Masons or Elks Club about cooking.
Aviation Presentation at a Local School - Elementary schools have requirements about science education. Aviation falls into that category. Why not talk with your local principal about doing 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!
"Type-Club" Fly-In - Most types of aircraft have a social club. Whether it is the American Bonanza Society, the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Assn., the Vintage Mooney Group, the Stinsons, Cubs. Do a search online and see what clubs are fairly close to your airport, perhaps 30-60 minutes of flying time. If you welcome clubs to your airport, they will come!
Local Service Club Presentations - 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. Make your speech face-paced, positive and fun. Use multi-media to your best advantage.
When we combine community connection and positivity to our airports we will help ensure our airports for years to come.