Monday, March 30, 2009


Every human being has a simple, undeniable desire to make their mark on the world, and to be remembered for something they did, known for their accomplishments. I can't claim to be any different, as I truly hope this blog effort is successful in inspiring others both to fly and to reach out and help others take flight. Yet, it is this individual spirit that is hurting aviation outreach so much--we're all so caught up making sure someone remembers us that we don't remember the true goal.

Recognizing this, and knowing that no one ever volunteers, I decided to try my own little outreach in partnership with my Women in Aviation chapter's annual outreach. Each year the MSU Northern Lights Chapter puts on a pilot panel where a variety of people of differing ages and experience levels are invited to attend presentations by several aviation professionals, and then ask questions following the presentations. Having rambled on here about the lack of exposure for local aviation organizations, I decided it was time for me to put my money where my mouth was (figuratively only, though--I'm in college, I don't have any money!) and work on getting a local EAA chapter to come to the pilot panel.

It's a lot harder than I expected. Even the chapter president acknowledged "it'd be nothing but good for us" but seemed less than enthusiastic about the opportunity to not only promote his chapter but sport aviation in general.

I'm not bad-mouthing this chapter in the least, just observing a surprising attitude. In fairness, I have not made it to a single one of their meeting due to schedule conflicts (skiplane fly-ins, spring break), so I understand that they may not be entirely thrilled about doing something for an organization they have never really got a chance to get to know. This particular EAA chapter is very good at offering some excellent scholarships each year, so I assumed they were active as an outreach organization. It may simply be they've never been approached for such an event.

With that in mind, I think this sort of partnership needs to be happening on a much greater scale. Each organization can have very different goals--Women in Aviation to encourage the involvement of women in aviation (and more so, professional aviation), EAA to support the development and preservation of sport aviation--but should partner on the vital issue of youth involvement. After all, our Women in Aviation chapter does not offer scholarships (we're a no-dues university chapter), but the EAA chapter does. Our Women in Aviation chapter does not have the insurance to sponsor flying events or Young Eagles, but the EAA chapter does. Our Women in Aviation chapter, being a university chapter, is young, with member ages ranging from 19 to 22 . . . the EAA chapter's average age is higher than that.

These differences are not hindrances to partnership, necessarily. They can make a unified effort more challenging, but also much better. A young person at this week's pilot panel can see both other young people involved in aviation and also experienced mentors who can help them along whichever path of involvement they may be interested in. Maybe a youth will talk to one of our student members and want to go flying for the first time in a small airplane--something the EAA chapter can help out with.

In the end, we all have the same goal--to ensure that there is a future for general aviation and the people interested in it. However, no organization is perfectly suited to the challenge of recruiting new enthusiasts. With a little bit of cooperation, we can present many of the myriad facets of this industry.

In short, while it may be a daunting task with which no one's familiar, it only takes one person to make the first call. Find another organization near you--it could be another chapter of the same organization or an entirely different organization--and work with each other on an event. It could be a Young Eagles rally, for instance--if the other chapter is inexperienced in Young Eagles rallies, offer to show them how you run yours, and involve the other chapter members in ground support. Talk with each other at the end of the event to learn what you both thought of the effort, including areas to improve. Or, partner with an organization like a Women in Aviation chapter that does not do flying events and let them run ground operations and bring activities for the kids.

There's nothing but good things to be gained from partnership efforts if they are approached respectfully. Each organization can maintain its individual identity, but it's time for more clubs and organizations to work with others in a cooperative, hand-in-hand effort.


1 comment:

  1. I agree the clubs could do so much more working together. When EAA started the Young Eagles program, they knew it was a larger undertaking to fly a millions kids with just the members of EAA. So they worked with other organizations like Aircraft Owners and Pilot Assoc. or International Flying Farmers. This type of cooperation greatly expands the ability of a club or organization to acheive a goal. We have some events at our local airport that even involves some non flying organization where they joined with the local EAA chapter to host a Fund Raiser to help disabled children by having a Car show and Fly in at the same time. This brings several different type of people together exposing them to both the Car Collector and the Aviation Community.

    Hopefully this type of cooperation will continue to spread throughout the organizations as it not only helps each group, it continues to expand the network of the people that get involved.