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New Program Rewards Pilots for Wisconsin Airport Visits

July 28, 2017 - Pilots, do you want to fill up a passport without leaving the state or pay thousands of dollars for airline tickets? Sign up for the Fly Wisconsin Airport Passport Program and hop in your plane.

The program, a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics and the Wisconsin Airport Management Association, lets registered pilots and passengers earn “passport” stamps when they fly out of their comfort zone to explore Wisconsin airports and aviation destinations.

Launched on Monday, the Fly Wisconsin Airport Passport Program promotes safety and education by encouraging recreational flight to Wisconsin’s 127 public airports.

“We just want people to fly, visit airports, see what else is out there,” said Scott Brummond, aeronautical and technical services chief for the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics. “It’s beneficial to local businesses and chambers of commerce, too, as the program brings more folks into each area.”

The program isn’t limited to Wisconsin pilots, either. Any certificated pilot, from any state, and their passengers may sign up. After participants receive their Fly Wisconsin passport, which will resemble a standard passport but features the program’s logo and contains a lineup of local — not international — destinations, they can start collecting stamps. Pilots and passengers earn one stamp for each airport, annual FAA safety seminar, and aviation attraction they visit.

The more you fly, the more stamps you earn — and the closer you get to earning a prize for your Wisconsin wanderings. There are three prize tiers — bronze, silver, and gold — based on how many airports, attractions, and seminars you attend prior to submitting your passport. The top prize is a leather jacket and $100.

“Every airport has its own unique stamp, and the idea is to get a stamp from each airport in your passport,” Brummond said. “However, if you get to an airport after hours and cannot get a stamp, you can take a selfie at the airport and post it on Facebook to get credit for your visit.”

A Facebook group — Fly Wisconsin! — was established to give pilots and passengers a place to share their adventures. Join the group by visiting www.Facebook.com/groups/FlyWI.

“The Facebook group is really to let people brag about where they have been, tell their stories and experiences,” Brummond said. “Maybe you had great service at an FBO in Waukesha, for example. Tell us about it! That sort of thing.”

Whenever you obtain the number of stamps for the level of recognition you’re aiming for, just mail your passport back to Fly Wisconsin to claim your prize.

But there’s no rush. Fly Wisconsin participants can satisfy wanderlust at their own pace.

 “There’s no sunset to this program,” Brummond added. “If it takes someone 10 years to fly to all 127 airports, that’s fine.”

To learn more about the Fly Wisconsin Airport Passport Program and to register, visit www.WisconsinDOT.gov/FlyWI, or visit the Bureau of Aeronautics Booth 1125-1126 in Hangar A. Pilots can also sign up by mailing in a short registration card, which can be picked up at AirVenture this week, or at participating Wisconsin airports. Passports will be mailed out starting September 1.

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