More Than 40,000 Attend Learn-To-Fly Events

Reports poured in from as far away as Australia, declaring the May 15, first ever International Learn to Fly Day a huge success. Across North America, close to 450 events focused on the mission of exposing non-pilots to the joys and usefulness of general aviation. The primary goal was to conduct as many demonstration flights as possible (no word yet on a final tally), but the agendas also included ground school seminars and meetings with pilots, instructors and other GA practitioners. Introduced by the Experimental Aircraft Association, the idea of an International Learn to Fly Day was also embraced by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (which held its own event at its headquarters airport in Frederick, Maryland), Cessna Aircraft, PilotJourney, and many others — including a cavalcade of approximately 150 EAA chapters around the world. The largest event was sponsored by Sporty's Pilot Shop in Batavia, Ohio, in conjunction with its annual Sporty's Fly-In. An estimated 2,000 people and between 300 and 400 aircraft showed up. On the PilotJourney website, the organization distributed more than 15,500 tickets for seminars in conjunction with International Learn to Fly Day. According to a survey on the site, almost two thirds of respondents who were introduced to aviation at an International Learn to Fly Day event plan to take flying lessons within the next three months. A U.S. House of Representatives resolution makes International Learn to Fly Day an official national event — to be held annually on the third Wednesday of May (May 21, 2011, will be the next date). EAA President Tom Poberezny characterized the spirit of the mission this way: "Welcome people to flying in their home towns, with people and neighbors they know, to make that immediate connection to aviation." He added, "We are extremely pleased and happy with what we saw happen in this inaugural event."