Three people with no aviation experience will be put through six days of intensive training, preparing them to be ready to conduct a supervised solo flight at the end of one week. That’s the goal of “One Week Ready to Solo.” The program, launched at SUN ‘n FUN, is a collaborative effort of Redbird Flight Simulations, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Jeppesen, Sporty’s, Garmin, LightSpeed, and SUN ‘N FUN.
“Millions share the dream of learning to fly, but most never make it to a flight school — in large part because they believe it’s too hard, too time consuming, or too expensive,” said Charlie Gregoire, vice president of sales and marketing at Redbird Flight Simulations. “We want to show people that learning to fly is within their reach —and it’s much more attainable than most imagine.”
The three student pilots, who do not know one another and have no prior aviation training, will each experience nine flights in a RedHawk Cessna 172, nine training sessions in a Redbird simulator, two flights with a renowned instructor, and five ground school sessions.
As part of the program, the students will receive the majority of their training from flight instructors selected from AOPA Flight Training Excellence recognized schools. The instructors include Dan Farrell from Cirrus Aviation in Sarasota, Fla., Doris Gatewood from Aviation Adventures in Warrenton, Va., and Jeff Wolf from Paragon Flight in Fort Myers, Fla.
They will also have the opportunity to learn from renowned instructors, including Michael Goulian; Dave Monroe, a Team Aerostars performer; Sean D. Tucker; Patty Wagstaff; Pia Bergqvist of Flying magazine; Dave Hirschman of AOPA Pilot magazine; Roger Sharp of Redbird; Craig Thighe of Jeppesen; and John and Martha King.
The solo candidates are Nik Oekerman, a former Navy corpsman and now an aspiring actor; Chris Graves, a motorcycle designer; and Sherry Rosenkranz, a global advertising manager for General Motors.
Redbird Flight Simulations is providing the aircraft, simulators, curricula, fuel, and other logistical support for the week. AOPA will film the entire experience, including briefings, simulator and flight sessions, and the supervised solo at the end of the week. The video will be edited into “webisodes” that will show how, in one week, a person can go from zero aviation experience to solo flight.
Flight training began on April 18, 2015. Follow the progress of the student pilots www.aopa.org/OWRTS.