Friday, January 12, 2007

A Vanishing Breed?

No wonder AOPA decided to make 2007 the year of pilot mentoring...we aviators are a shrinking population...this, also from Friday's AOPA ePilot:

The FAA has released final pilot statistics for 2006 showing a dip below 600,000. There are now 597,109 pilots. It underscores the need to reverse the trend by introducing someone to the excitement and joy of flight. Sign up as a Mentor to a budding pilot through the AOPA Project Pilot program. The average pilot is 45.6 years old. Meanwhile, the average age of new sport pilots is 52.9 years, or seven years older than the total pilot population. There were 939 sport pilots at the end of 2006, with numbers growing rapidly in the final months of 2006. (There were only an average of 30 sport pilots certified per month during the first eight months of 2006, but the monthly average jumped to 134 for the last four months.) The youngest group is the student pilot category where the average age is 34.4 years old. Despite the perception that younger pilots populate the flight instructor ranks, the average age there is 45.2. There are 91,343 flight instructors. The oldest ages are concentrated in the glider rating (37,837 pilots) and balloon rating (10,511 pilots) categories, where the age is 54 years old. Here is a breakdown of other categories: ATP, 144,681; commercial, 130,234; private, 236,147; recreational, 242; student, 84,866; and rotor rating, 41,306.

There's more to learn at

I mentored a friend almost decade ago, but he got busy building a business and only now is thinking about resuming flight instruction; maybe some of you can do better, eh? Regardless, maybe it's also time for the GA community (especially the manufacturers) to renew their support for something like the 1970s "Learn to Fly" program or the more-recent but now dormant "Be-A-Pilot" effort...

If we're to continue to thrive as a community, there needs to be more of us -- across the board...tell a friend -- take one for a flight or to a flight school, show 'em how cheap getting into a good used airplane can be. Heck I saw ads for three PA28 models for sale yesterday, all of 'em admitedly Spartan, but all of 'em IFR nonetheless, all of 'em at least twice as fast as driving...and all under $30K...

And is there any better lifestyle than being a part of the aviating community?


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