A student pilot who has a mentor is three times as likely to finish training and stay involved in aviation.
That, says AOPA Executive Vice President Jeff Myers, is the reason his organization is reviving – and has revised substantially – its Project Pilot.
Project Pilot encourages experienced pilots to mentor students during their flight training. It is not competition for flight instructors, he emphasizes, but provides support and encouragement.
Myers calls Project Pilot “a long-term investment in the future.”
“Project Pilot is insurance for the future of general aviation and, frankly, of AOPA,” he said. “It’s a major investment of people and time.”
Project Pilot originated in 1994 “and it worked,” he said. “We mentored about 10,000 new pilots in the first year.” Since then, however, there has been a decline in the pilot and student pilot populations, for reasons ranging from aging of Americans to tougher security following the terrorist attacks in 2001.
The revised Project Pilot, which is web-based, was introduced at the AOPA Fly-In June 3. It provides information for bringing students and mentors together, sign-up for both, and in other ways is what Myers terms “a facilitating resource.” In addition, there is a six-minute video, found on the AOPA home page (AOPA.org), explaining Project Pilot.
Making the June 3 introduction was Eric Lindbergh, who credits mentoring for his career in aviation.
In addition to the mentoring program, Project Pilot offers information packages to participating mentors and students, and a new 32-page magazine. Mentors seeing a student through flight training to a license also will receive a unique cap, Myers said. “It won’t be available in any other way. Anyone wearing it will be someone who has brought a new pilot to aviation.”