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High school curriculum, key to airport access for GA growth


Baker and AOPA Senior Vice President of Marketing Jiri Marousek answered questions from AOPA members, pilots and aviation influencers during the hour-long event.

Aviation Corporate Pilot and Social Media Influencer Kimberly Kiss began the question-and-answer session, asking what AOPA is doing to involve more women in the aviation industry. Baker replied, “This is one of the things that I believe wholeheartedly as a father of three daughters and a grandfather of four granddaughters. I think there are no aviation barriers for the genre, and there shouldn’t be.

Baker cited AOPA’s success with You Can Fly’s Aviation High School STEM curriculum, which offers six courses in two lanes, pilot and drone pilot, from grades 9 to 12. More than 200 schools in 38 states teach the free program to more than 8,000 students; of these students, 25 percent are young women and 40 percent are minorities.

“It’s interesting to me that we’re starting at an age where the formative years where people are starting to understand what they might want to do, might want to know more, and I would tell you that they want to be in the aviation, “he said. “So we are working hard to create this path. “

AOPA plans to increase the number of classrooms offering the program to thousands of people over the next few years, he said.

“There will be a lot of good jobs in aviation,” said Baker, “and if you’re going to be working for the rest of your life, why not have a fun job? “

Continuing interest in the You Can Fly high school program, Jerome Stanislaus, pilot, former teacher and member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, asked what challenges the high school initiative faced as the coronavirus pandemic forced them to many schools to switch to virtual learning. .

Although AOPA did not plan for schools to move to a virtual format, the You Can Fly program had already designed much of the training to be accomplished virtually so that AOPA staff could train educators. across the country who may not be able to make it to the in-person curriculum training workshops.

“We actually had one of the easiest avenues to teach STEM aviation education,” said Baker, adding that the hardest part is spreading the word about the free program so that more schools register.

Aaron Reeves, a Cessna 172 pilot who also hosts the @flyingsparksgarage show on YouTube with his wife, Emily, asked how pilots can inspire non-aviators to join the aviation community through online videos without being subjected to the scrutiny of other pilots or regulators.

“We have to remind people why we got into aviation… because it’s fun and because we have the freedom to fly that hardly exists anywhere else in the world,” said Baker. “And start with the reasons we did it, then the encouragement to say, ‘And you can do it too. “

Baker said making airports more welcoming to their surrounding communities would help spark interest in aviation.

“I would say one of my favorite things about flying is going to the airport, seeing people having fun, playing and seeing how much excitement there is, and frankly take people of all ages for a ride, that there is nothing like the excitement of leaving gravity and the earth, going around where you live or where you come on, and feel this freedom [in the] air. I’m telling you, there is nothing else like it.

And I think we need to do a better job of inviting, welcoming, and accepting everyone who wants to be around this airport and these planes.

Jason Miller from The finest points asked about threats to GA’s airports over the next five years.

“We have a very important airport ecosystem” that AOPA and others are working to protect, he said. Threats usually come from a “community that doesn’t understand aviation” or from developers who want the land. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers who are our eyes and ears at over 2,000 airports and members who vote, attend city council and airport meetings, and speak out in the event of threats. a key role in AOPA’s success in keeping airports open. .

Baker said the emerging market for electric vertical take-off and landing planes will make urban airports (these are the ones that are generally at risk) even more valuable to their communities and the transportation system.

To ensure that the public understands all the benefits that airports offer, Baker recommends holding Airport Days to invite the community to the airport.

BasicMed has also appeared. A Piper Cherokee Six pilot from California asked when Canada would recognize BasicMed, just as Mexico and the Bahamas allow pilots to fly there under the alternative of medical certification. Baker said that while Canada is unlikely to accept it in 2021, AOPA is working to get it accepted in the future, either through a bilateral deal with the country or worldwide. through the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The pilots also asked Baker for his thoughts on more personal matters, such as which plane to buy as a newly created private pilot, life in residential air parks, and the forecast for rising avgas fuel prices.

Baker closed the livestream by reassuring the pilots: “General aviation itself is booming, it’s growing, it’s welcoming, and I can tell you what, it’s really the best activity we’ve seen in dozens. and decades. So get out there and enjoy it!

The You Can Fly program is funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) organization. To be part of the solution, visit www.aopafoundation.org/donate.


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