Aviation faces some fundamental issues: While the FAA reports there were 41% fewer private pilot certificates issued over the last decade, Boeing is projecting the need for 460,000 new pilots globally by 2031. Meanwhile, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is reporting that up to 80% of student pilots drop out of training.
“It’s a mathematical equation that tells us that we have a real problem,” says Ravi the Raviator, a pilot and motivational speaker who has been named “Honorary Outreach Ambassador” by SUN ’n FUN.
Outreach is exactly what GA needs right now, he notes. “We keep trying to bring people to aviation, rather than bringing aviation to people,” he says. “That’s my focus from this point forward.”
He believes that to save GA, we need to show kids there is a career path from learning to fly to working in aviation. “That’s how we’re going to grow the pilot population,” he says.
He notes it’s difficult to get people to come out to a GA airport that may be out of the way and difficult to enter due to increased security. “We have to go somewhere where people are already comfortable to introduce them to the magic of flight,” he says.
In that vein, he spent a good part of his time at this year’s SUN ’n FUN sharing his message with students in the area in his presentation “You Can Do It.”
Sponsored by Sennheiser, he’s also slated to speak at the Cannes AirShow in France in June. He’s hoping these efforts will lead to a “You Can Do It” tour of 24 cities around the country.
As he strives to inspire a new generation of aviators, he advises those already involved to look at the bigger picture.
“We as an industry really need to start looking at the world — not just how we save GA in America, but how we can export our talents to an emerging market,” he says.
For more information: HeyRavi.com