I’m a huge believer in volunteer flying opportunities like the Civil Air Patrol, AngelFlight, PilotsNPaws, and the EAA Young Eagles programs. Less than 1% of Americans have ever had the privilege of being a pilot. Although we certainly worked hard, sacrificed and paid for the right to fly an airplane, I think we owe something back. There are a lot of volunteer flying benefits including helping others, introducing new people to the beauty of flying and, even making flying more affordable through tax deductions and reimbursed expenses, in some cases. The biggest benefit is to you as the pilot is it actually makes you safer! Not just a little bit either but a significant connection exists between pilots who volunteer and reducing general aviation accidents.
Why are pilots who volunteer so much safer? Organizations like the Civil Air Patrol provide and encourage training, but not all volunteer organizations do. EAA Young Eagles pilots may attend regular meetings and safety presentations, but are not required to. Pilots who don’t volunteer are more dangerous for the same reason my Spanish is so bad. What? No you didn’t miss anything and it really is that simple. My Spanish, after 6 years of schooling, is horrible because I don’t use it. General Aviation skills degrade just as quickly as any other skill if you don’t use them. Pilots who don’t fly on a regular basis get rusty, make more mistakes and, have more accidents. Want to be safer? It’s pretty simple, all you have to do is fly more. That’s why volunteer flying is so important to keeping you safe.
Transport programs like AngelFlight and PilotsNPaws force you to plan new cross country trips, do different weight and balance computations, and fly in new environments. The EAA Young Eagles program makes you better with repeated takeoff and landings, multitasking, and more.
You need to fly more often to be safer. You need to give back and help grow general aviation. How will you volunteer and fly more often this year? I hope I can help by giving you this personal challenge. I’m dedicated to providing more than 100 Young Eagles flights in 2016. Who wants to match or beat my goal? Share your promise of how you will volunteer in the comments and forward this article to every pilot you know. Together we can change the world and make flying safer for everyone.
ps Yo soy es el super piloto, si?
About the author:
Gary D Reeves, ATP, Master CFI, CFII,MEI has been teaching for over ten years and has over 6000 hours including turbojet and turboprop experience. He is the 2016 FAA Instructor of the Year for the SW Region(CA, AZ, NV, HI). As a national expert in IFR Training, Garmin Avionics, iPad use, Mountain Flying and aviation safety he is a lead rep for the FAA Safety team and founded the volunteer group PilotSafety.org If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please visit www.PilotSafety.org , www.MasterFlightTraining.com or contact him directly at GaryR@pilotsafety.org.