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Air Shows a Vehicle to Attracting Next Generation of Pilots

December 22, 2015 - Nearly 10 percent of the estimated 11 to 12 million people who attend air shows each year have a pilot’s certificate. Another 39.5 percent say they are considering taking flying lessons according to the most recent air show spectator survey directed in 2014 by the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS).

“Air shows and the experiences young people have at air shows are a driving force behind attracting the next generation of pilots,” ICAS President John Cudahy said. “With 14 percent of adult air show spectators between the ages of 18 and 25, the industry can clearly influence whether someone decides to explore aviation as a career.”

On December 14, the Breitling Jet Team appeared on CBS This Morning and reinforced the message that air shows and air show performances can encourage young people to enter aviation careers. Breitling pilot Patrick Marchand and president of Breitling USA, Thierry Prissert, discussed the primary purpose of the jet team’s appearances at air shows, telling CBS News reporter John Blackstone that their number one goal is to enable people to discover aviation.

“When you see those pilots flying those planes at air shows all around the country, you inspire people,” Prissert said.

Blackstone reported that, at air shows, the challenges of the aviation industry get lost because what’s on display is the joy of flight. From on-site at an undisclosed air show featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, a 17- and 14- year-old brother and sister who aspire to be pilots told Blackstone that air shows are part of what made them want to fly.

“There are dozens of stories in the air show industry about someone seeing a particular pilot or performance and that experience driving them toward an aviation career,” Cudahy said. “Extraordinary, memorable experiences have influence. And seeing the Breitling Jet Team or any of our industry’s top pilots do what they do at air shows can certainly make a person thinking about becoming a pilot take the next step into aviation.”  

Read the full story on the CBS News website.

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