The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Foundation has kicked off its 2019 You Can Fly Challenge, supported by the Ray Foundation for the fourth year in a row, giving donors an opportunity for their contributions to be doubled.
For every dollar the AOPA Foundation raises to fund the You Can Fly program by Aug. 31, 2019, the Ray Foundation will match it up to $2 million, for a potential total of $4 million.
The You Can Fly program is getting and keeping more pilots flying with initiatives to introduce youth to aviation, improve the flight training experience, support flying clubs, and help lapsed pilots complete their flight review, according to AOPA officials.
The 2019 challenge to raise $2 million in donations for a dollar-for-dollar matching grant is an increase over last year’s $1.4 million challenge. In 2018, donors rose to the challenge and contributed more than $1.8 million, and then the Ray Foundation increased its matching grant to $1.8 million, for a total of more than $3.6 million in funding.
The Ray Foundation set its higher matching goal for 2019 in recognition of the outstanding performance of the You Can Fly program, AOPA officials noted. The grant honors the memory of founder James C. Ray (1923-2017), a pilot and entrepreneur whose life experience taught him that personal flight training develops skills that help students be successful not just in aviation, but in many other aspects of life.
“James promoted by example the values of self-discipline, hard work, and responsibility for one’s own actions. His life’s work lives on through the You Can Fly program,” said AOPA President Mark Baker.
The success of the You Can Fly program was evident as 2018 drew to a close, officials said. By year’s end there were more than 2,500 students in more than 100 classrooms benefiting from the high school curriculum. In 2018, AOPA recognized 83 flight schools and 128 individual instructors with Flight Training Experience Awards based on more than 6,300 responses to the annual Flight Training Experience Survey. The 37 flying clubs launched with the help of You Can Fly’s Flying Club initiative in 2018 brought the program’s total to 102 since inception in 2015. The Rusty Pilots initiative forged ahead in 2018 with more than 5,500 pilots attending 175 Rusty Pilots seminars, while 800 others completed the new Rusty Pilots online course.
In addition to the $2 million matching grant, the Ray Foundation has also granted an additional $1 million to the AOPA Foundation to fund flight training scholarships. Combined, the Ray Foundation’s overall support for 2019 could reach a total of $5 million.