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First Learn To Fly Day Draws Thousands

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The first-ever Learn To Fly Day inspired 450 events around the country last Saturday, introducing an estimated 40,000 people to general aviation, EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said this week. "Chapter 845 in Redlands, Calif., signed up 90 for introductory flights but was unable to give them all rides on Saturday," Knapinski said. "So they're holding International Learn To Fly Day Part 2 this weekend." At AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Md., the local EAA chapter set a new record for Young Eagle flights, said AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy. "Turnout was steady all morning and through mid-afternoon," he told AVweb. "Women in Aviation hosted an event here for Girl Scouts, and local flight schools signed up several people for intro flights." The event attracted local press around the country, with the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun reporting 50 people taking first flights at a local airport, and about 400 showed up at the field in Fitchburg, Mass., where they also got to see the Terrafugia Transition "flying car" on display. Jeff Skiles, first officer on the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight, hosted an event in Wisconsin that made the local TV news.

Sporty's Pilot Shop in Batavia, Ohio, held a Learn to Fly Day in conjunction with their annual Fly-In. The event drew between 300 and 400 aircraft, along with 2,000 attendees. Pilot Journey reports it issued 15,526 free tickets for seminar-type events, and 64 percent of the 900 who completed surveys said they intend to start flying lessons within the next three months. There were also many uncounted instances of pilots simply taking a friend for a flight to celebrate the day, said Knapinski. "We're very happy with the results thus far," said EAA's Ron Wagner, who helped to coordinate the event. "With participation from Pilot Journey, AOPA, Cessna, and others, this truly was an industry-wide effort aimed at introducing the non-flying public to aviation. We're looking forward to what we can achieve in the future given the solid foundation we've established in the first year."

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