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Flying Start Program Helps Chapters Reach Out

EAA provides tools to introduce newcomers to aviation

By Ti Windisch, EAA Staff Writer

July 22, 2018 - EAA’s Flying Start program provides EAA chapters with an opportunity to reach out into the local community and bring those interested in aviation to the airport for a first-hand look at the wonders of flight.

EAA Chapter Field Representative David Leiting said the program was initially introduced in the 1990s, and is being reinvigorated to pair with EAA’s Eagle Flights program to get more adults involved in aviation.

“Local chapters invite in the general public from the local area to an airport open house-style event, whether it’s a barbecue or coffee and doughnuts in the morning,” David said. “They do a short presentation about what it takes to learn to fly. It’s really targeted at that group that’s always thought, ‘Flying is really cool; I should look into that someday.’”

After the presentation, Flying Start attendees get into the sky with their own Eagle Flight. Participating attendees also get a six-month trial EAA membership, and participating chapters are encouraged to pair that with a six-month chapter membership as well.

“The goal is, hopefully, they start flight training at some point shortly thereafter,” David said. “But ultimately it helps bring new folks into our organization and into the local chapters.”

Some chapters across the country have already run Flying Start programs as a beta test for its reintroduction. Chapters 1, 179, and 690 in Riverside, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Lawrenceville, Georgia, respectively, have all hosted Flying Start events.

“Each of them had about 15-20 people show up,” David said. “Chapter 1 decided to host a second event because it was so successful. I think there were three attendees from the first one that are in flight training now. There are a couple who haven’t started flight training yet, but they joined the chapter because they want to at some point.”

In addition to having a positive effect on a chapter membership, David said the Flying Start program is a fitting way for those already involved in aviation to give back to the community.

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