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Tremendous turnout at Learn to Fly Center

Tremendous turnout at Learn to Fly Center
By Dana Heimos


When speaking of the almost-complete first year of the Learn to Fly Center at AirVenture Oshkosh 2007, Rusty Sachs, executive director of the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), said, "It’s been a tremendous success." With more than 227 sport pilot certificates handed out Monday through Friday, Rusty is probably correct in his statement.

"Never before has there been a single location where AirVenture attendees interested in flying can go to learn how to become a pilot." Rusty said. "Children as young as 9 years old to folks nine times that age have shown interest in earning their pilot certificate."

The Learn to Fly Center is sponsored by EAA and NAFI, and aims to educate aspiring pilots who want to take to the skies themselves. The center features certificated flight instructors making presentations, answering questions, and discussing the steps, training, knowledge, and skills required to pursue the world’s most exhilarating pastime—flying for fun.

"It’s essential that we keep the number of pilots growing," Rusty said. "To put things into perspective: last year there were roughly 500 seminars and workshops—252 of those were dedicated to homebuilding and only four were focused on the newbie. This year we see that number growing dramatically."

The center emphasizes sport pilot training as a great first step to obtaining a certificate because it can be applied toward more advanced certificates. To facilitate the first step, the Learn to Fly Center will provide FAA-authorized student sport pilot certificates (a value of approximately $50) free of charge for EAA members.

"We encourage members to stop in and chat with the flight instructors about any aspect of flight training at any level of sophistication," Rusty said. "And we’d be particularly pleased if they bring along an uninitiated friend who might be a mere spark of inspiration and a little encouragement away from getting started."

In addition to mini-forums and one-on-one discussions, the Learn to Fly Center will provide printed materials on learning to fly, will give away daily prizes, and will host receptions with expert instructors and celebrity pilots. For more information on the web, visit www.AirVenture.org, or just stop by Member Village.