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Thu, Oct 09, 2003

Lifeblood Of Aviation… Needs Support

By ANN Correspondent Rob Milford

“Be a Pilot”. Such a simple concept. So incredibly important to our industry, and a trade organization that’s doing everything in it’s power to bring more people to aviation, every day.

The results, even in this tough economic environment, for 2003, have been impressive.

“This is a concept sell for all of aviation” according to BE A PILOT President and CEO Drew Steketee, “We need LOTS of pilots! We require strong, grassroots support to keep airports open, and to keep them from becoming shopping malls and housing developments, and for those in the business aviation sector, you need to get your CEO in the right seat on a few flights, and let him take the controls!”

The organization has been running a strong cable television advertising schedule, including Discovery Wings and CNBC, and three channels of ESPN, and the return on the advertising dollars shows more than 26,680 people have registered through the program, and in the last year, 15 percent of all new students entered through the “BE A PILOT” program.

The TV schedule will continue through the end of the year, focused on the Centennial of Flight celebration and coverage in December, as well as an article in the December issue of Popular Science magazine.

The “BE A PILOT” website has also drawn more than 667,000 hits this year, and Steketee adds “The offer for a free logbook through Jeppesen has resulted in more than 1,000 being shipped out to student pilots, and that’s a very impressive number.”

Upcoming promotions include 23 Aero Clubs at Air Force bases across the country, through next spring, and there have been discussions with the Civil Air Patrol about providing the “BE A PILOT” material to every non-rated member.

BE A PILOT Chairman Jack Olcott took time to talk about the importance of bringing new people into flying: “Pilots are the heart of the aviation industry, and we need all kinds. Students, Private Pilots…we have to get ‘em in the air, and  after they get a couple of hundred hours, when we experience the strongest level of “dropouts” we have to teach them how to really use the aircraft…to give them help and encouragement”

“This is all about Freedom,” says Drew Steketee (pictured right), “and we’re not just selling planes… it’s transportation, excitement, and high-tech…imagine a fast computer…say 200 miles per hour!”

The BE A PILOT program also points out that they dovetail very nicely with the “Young Eagles” program of the EAA… that gets kids excited, and in the cockpit, and BE A PILOT can really get them on their career track.

FMI: www.beapilot.com

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