"Since 1980, while the total U.S. population has grown by 25 percent, the pilot population has declined by the same percentage. And, worse, student starts are down by more than twice that rate," AOPA President Phil Boyer said in a news release. To counter the trend, AOPA is urging its members to help their friends become pilots. An expanded Project Pilot, formally announced at the AOPA Fly-In in Frederick, Md., over the weekend, will help pilots take an active role in helping their aviation-oriented friends and family members not only take that important first lesson but to stick with the challenging (but ultimately richly rewarding) learning and training regimen. "AOPA Project Pilot will help America's pilot population grow by giving student pilots the support they need to complete their training," the release said. With the average age of pilots and the number who are choosing (or being forced) to stop flying creeping higher, the possibility of a serious pilot shortage (and the power of its associated voice) is looming large. Obviously, a shortage of pilots will ripple through the whole system, affecting manufacturers, service and repair sectors.