The 2023 You Can Fly Challenge kicks off June 1, giving donors a tremendous opportunity to give back to a passion that has given all of us so much. Gifts will be matched by the Ray Foundation and will support major initiatives to protect the future of general aviation.
The You Can Fly Challenge directly benefits important initiatives of the AOPA Foundation You Can Fly program, getting more people into the skies and keeping them there safely. You Can Fly creates an unparalleled aviation-themed path for high school students, allows aspiring aviators to maximize their flight training through innovative technology, and provides pilots with an opportunity for increased and more economical access to aircraft through flying clubs.
AOPA members and the GA community stepped up in a major way in 2022, raising more than $3.1 million from thousands of donations and unlocking an additional match of $2.5 million from the Ray Foundation. When donations and the match were combined, more than $5.6 million was raised to get—and keep—more pilots flying.
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.”
“We set a high bar in 2022, but I am absolutely confident that the generosity of our members will bring us to new heights this year,” said Elizabeth Tennyson, senior vice president of the AOPA Foundation and You Can Fly. “I am continually amazed, but not surprised, at how our community steps up to protect the future of GA. I can’t thank our donors enough for allowing us to undertake programs to keep the freedom to fly stronger than ever.”
The AOPA Foundation’s You Can Fly program lifts GA through several important initiatives.
The You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Curriculum allows students to discover thriving career opportunities in aviation and aerospace through aviation-based science, technology, engineering, and math lessons, in all four grades of high school. The curriculum is offered free of charge to schools nationwide, including inner-city schools that often lack funding for such classes.
The curriculum is currently being taught to more than 16,300 students in 400 schools across 43 states. Since its inception, the You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Curriculum has engaged nearly 50,000 students, with 70 percent of the program’s first graduates reporting that they are pursuing an aviation-based career. The program has also broadened STEM opportunities for underserved markets, as 50 percent of the students are people of color, and more than 20 percent are female.
The You Can Fly Flight Training team is bringing innovation and efficiency to the industry through its game-changing AOPA Flight Training Advantage (AFTA) platform, a web- and iPad-based training program designed to help make the process of flight training more effective for all involved. AFTA is one representation of the team’s work with flight schools, CFIs, and students nationwide to enhance the educational experience and increase the success rate of flight training. To date, more than 1,750 flight schools are using AFTA, with more than 10,000 student hours logged.
Expanding aircraft access and increasing affordability, the You Can Fly Flying Clubs team enables aviators to connect with fellow aviation enthusiasts and keep their passion ignited. The team has helped form 225 new flying clubs across the country, encompassing thousands of pilots. The You Can Fly team supports these clubs—and new ones—through workshops, online resources, webinars, and ongoing counsel.
For many pilots, life can get in the way of our passion. But for those wanting to return, our Rusty Pilots team helps pave the way back into the left seat. Through 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. After all, once a pilot, always a pilot!
The 2023 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 call the AOPA Foundation at 800/872-2672 or contact us online.