AOPA Foundation Offers Grants

Under a new program called "Giving Back," the AOPA Foundation is providing a chance for nonprofit groups in general aviation and student pilots to apply for grants to support a variety of needs. The grants for nonprofit groups will be available in amounts up to $10,000, Stephanie Kenyon, a vice president of the foundation, told AVweb on Wednesday. "It can be a request for general operating support or it can be program-specific," Kenyon said. The training scholarships will be offered in amounts up to $5,000. The Foundation is also offering free AOPA memberships to teenagers and members of the armed forces.

The grant applications for nonprofit groups are due by July 1, Kenyon said, but the scholarships and membership programs are ongoing. This is the first year of the program, and depending on response, the offerings might change in subsequent years, she said. More details about the grant programs and how to apply can be found at the Foundation's website. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Kenyon about the program, click here to listen to the podcast.

ATP Rule Change Affects Career Choices

A new law that will require first officers in regional jets to hold at least an ATP certificate is not yet official, but it's already affecting aviation careers, Kent Lovelace, chair of the aviation department at the University of North Dakota, told AVweb this week. The law will take effect this August, whether or not the FAA has completed its proposed rulemaking process, Lovelace said. The regionals already have started to reject applicants who aren't likely to log the minimum 1,500 hours total time by this summer, and the change also has caused some students to choose a different career track. The regionals' applicant pool has shrunk "to where some carriers, the usable applications they have on file are virtually nil," says Lovelace.

ATC Trainers Laid Off Due To Sequester

About 300 contract workers, most of whom provide training for air traffic controllers at the FAA's Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, have been laid off due to federal budget cuts. The workers are employed by Raytheon and subcontractor ISG, according to local news reports. "This is something that is happening because of the terrible position we are in with the federal government and sequestration," ISG president Gerald Williams told The Oklahoman. Spokesmen for the training center and for Raytheon declined to comment. Some of the workers were told the furloughs would be temporary.

New Study Challenges Pilot Shortage

A young upwardly mobile first officer for a major airline says the math doesn't support the notion of a pilot shortage anytime soon. Brant Harrison naturally has a vested interest in the pilots ahead of him on the seniority list moving on and when he heard about studies like one from Boeing suggesting the looming need for 460,000 pilots over the next 20 years he was encouraged. But when Harrison couldn't see any real-world evidence of that shortage he decided to put his college minor in math and business to work and see where all these jobs were supposed to be coming from. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Harrison said the airline-by-airline analysis he's recently released doesn't envision any significant change in the job market until at least the end of this decade. "There are so many pilots for a limited amount of jobs," he said.

Flying Camp, For Free

Seventy-year-old Vietnam veteran and CFII Rafael Sierra has created a short summer camp program in Thermal, Calif., that provides select high school students with ground school, one hour of flight training, and a student pilot certificate -- all free. Sierra's Coachella Valley Youth Aviation Education Program selects students on the basis of their essay submissions and their desire to become commercial pilots. He runs the program on financial donations and contributions from like-minded friends and local businesses. Sierra told AVweb, Friday, that last year 57 students "graduated" from the program, and this June 22-29 he will guide another group. Sierra says his model is simple and can be copied successfully across the country.

The Unstable Training Environment and The Coming Pilot Shortage

Congress has mandated a 1,500 hour minimum flight time requirement for scheduled air carriers next summer, and unless FAA regulations come along to supersede it the "impending pilot shortage" that even the general media has latched on to could become a reality sooner than later. When regulation outpaces thinking, and policy is made without concern for data, supply and demand often get thrown out of whack. In this case, it's reasonable to assume that if this 1,500 hour rule is fully implemented, it will cost prospective pilots far more money and time to become professional airline pilots. And fewer and fewer pilots will enter the pipeline as many sensibly opt out of the arduous quest to reach the arbitrary 1,500 hour mark.

A GIFT With Wings

What compelled 45 women from Anchorage to Chesterfield, N.H., to trek to Vernon, Texas, a tiny north-Texas town where there are more trucks than cars? All had heard about a unique program called Girls in Flight Training (GIFT) Academy that provides free ground and flight instruction for women in all stages of flight training. The second annual event was held Nov. 3-10 at the Wilbarger County Airport.

King Schools, New Advanced Releases

Flight training syllabi for the Private Pilot, Instrument Rating, Instrument Instructor Refresher, Crew Resource Management, and Part 135 Initial and Recurrent online training courses are the among new courses announced this week by King Schools. The company says its Part 135 training courses are crafted to fit smoothly into operators' own pre-existing training packages. And its syllabus programs are designed to sharpen the learning curve by clearly defining common goals shared by both instructor and student. Together the new products push the company toward a new landmark for products created.

Build A Plane Hosts Teachers At AirVenture

Build A Plane, a nonprofit group based in California that helps school groups to build their own aircraft, held its fourth annual Teachers Day at EAA AirVenture this week in Oshkosh. The program, which ran on Tuesday in the EAA Museum, provided a free day at AirVenture for about 150 teachers from around the country, along with a series of forums about how to incorporate aviation into their classrooms to help teach kids about science, technology, engineering and math. "We are amazed by how many great opportunities are out there to use aviation to engage and motivate kids to learn," said Lyn Freeman, Build A Plane president. "Today's students respond to real-world applications, and aviation really captures their attention." The Teachers Day program was co-sponsored by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and EAA.

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