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Make a difference through the You Can Fly Challenge

The 2022 You Can Fly Challenge took off on June 1, providing donors the opportunity to enhance the future of aviation and have their gift matched by the Ray Foundation.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

The You Can Fly Challenge directly benefits the important initiatives of the AOPA Foundation You Can Fly program, getting more people into the skies and keeping them there. Not only does You Can Fly enable new pilots to sit left seat through innovative flight training and scholarship opportunities, it carves a bright aviation-related future for high school students, and allows pilots to spend more time in the air through flying clubs.

To help support these You Can Fly initiatives, the Ray Foundation will match donations, dollar for dollar, up to $2.5 million. The challenge runs between June 1 and December 31. The late James C. Ray was a World War II veteran, and a member of the AOPA Foundation President’s Council, who believed that “life skills are learned through aviation.”

AOPA Foundation donors set a high bar in 2021, meeting—and exceeding—the You Can Fly Challenge goal by raising more than $3.5 million during the challenge and unlocking the full $2.5 million match by the Ray Foundation. This generosity allowed the AOPA Foundation to connect with thousands of individuals, fuel their interest in aviation, and make it easier to join or rejoin our community.

“I can’t think of a better avenue for those who would like to give back to a passion that has given so much to all of us in general aviation,” said Elizabeth Tennyson, senior vice president of the AOPA Foundation. “We are again grateful to the Ray Foundation, which shares a common goal with AOPA of doing everything we can to ensure that GA has a bright future with a wealth of opportunities for the aviators of today and tomorrow. We look forward to building on our success.”

The AOPA Foundation’s You Can Fly program comprises important initiatives that support the health and strength of GA:

High Schools

Covering all four grades, the You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Curriculum allows students to discover career opportunities in aviation and aerospace through aviation-based science, technology, engineering, and math lessons. The curriculum is offered free of charge to schools nationwide, including rural and inner-city schools that often lack funding.

With direct support of generous donations to the AOPA Foundation, during the 2021–2022 school year, the initiative has reached more than 12,000 students in more than 300 schools in nearly every state. The program has also allowed AOPA to bring aviation-related STEM education to underserved markets, as nearly 40 percent of the students are people of color and more than 20 percent are female.

Flight Training

The You Can Fly Flight Training team works directly with flight schools, CFIs, and students nationwide to enhance the educational experience and increase the success rate of flight training. One exciting innovation is the AOPA Flight Training Advantage platform, a web- and iPad-based training program designed to help make the process of flight training more effective for all involved. The app creates lesson plans based on each student’s performance and allows the CFI to score performance in the air and automatically assign homework, while giving students instant access to their complete training records. To date, more than 670 flight schools are using AFTA, with more than 2,000 student hours logged.

Flying Clubs

To help pilots save money and fly more, You Can Fly’s Flying Clubs initiative enables aviators to connect with fellow aviation enthusiasts. To date, the team has helped form 200 new flying clubs across the country, comprising thousands of pilots. The You Can Fly team supports these clubs, and new ones, through workshops, online resources, webinars, and ongoing counsel.

Rusty Pilots

Sometimes life gets in the way of flying—but once a pilot, always a pilot. When lapsed pilots are ready to return to flying, the Rusty Pilots team is there to make it easier. With in-person seminars, webinars, and online coursework, pilots can refresh their knowledge and connect with flight schools and instructors so they can complete a flight review and get back in the air, even after decades away.

The 2022 You Can Fly Challenge is an opportunity to double the impact of your support. Tax-deductible donations should be made by December 31 to count toward the match. For more information, please contact the AOPA Foundation at 800-872-2672 or click here.

Alyssa J. Miller

Eric Blinderman

Senior Director of Communications
Eric Blinderman is AOPA’s Senior Director of Communications. Eric joined AOPA in 2020 after several years at leading marketing/communications agencies in New York and is looking forward to putting his newly minted private pilot certificate to work.
Topics: AOPA Foundation, Giving

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