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Join the Club

The flying community is one of the most welcoming and enthusiastic groups of people you’ll ever encounter. Pilots love sharing their love of aviation with fellow aviators. So whether you’re just starting out or you’ve a seasoned ace, AOPA can help connect you to pilots through its Pilot Hangar. Here you can:

  • Forge new friendships with fellow flyers through local flying clubs.
  • Explore exciting destinations you may want to discover on a cross-country.
  • See what aircraft have been posted to the AOPA Marketplace.
  • Get the latest information on aviation events, including fly-ins and the annual Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the nation’s largest gathering of aviation enthusiasts.
  • Follow your fellow aviators on social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Make Safety a Habit

Every good pilot knows you can never become complacent when it comes to aviation safety. AOPA’s Air Safety Institute provides opportunities for on-going training and education designed to enhance your flying skills. Get the latest Safety Alerts, test your knowledge with online quizzes, listen to other pilots share their experience through videos and podcasts, and explore topics such as decision making, weather and maintenance issues.

How do student pilots stay safe while learning?

A system of checks and balances ensures that student pilots are not exposed to dangerous situations before they have learned the skills to adapt and respond appropriately.

Student pilots stay under the watchful eye of an instructor until they are ready to go out on their own. Prior to flying solo, they must complete a written examination and have demonstrated proficiency in all activities relating to local flying, including emergencies. So when you take the airplane up for the first time by yourself, you will have been drilled many times in what to do in case something doesn’t work as planned.

What about weather accidents?

Most pilots will choose only to fly when weather is optimal so they have the greatest margin for error. Just as boaters have to keep an eye out for weather, pilots must look for adverse conditions. Problems develop when the warning signs are ignored and the pilot presses on.

Obviously, it’s important that aircraft be reliable mechanically. What’s the record on this?

Most pilots will fly their entire lives without a major engine malfunction. Factory-built airplanes must meet rigid FAA design criteria and exemplify superior engineering. Aircraft engines are designed with dual ignition systems and two spark plugs per cylinder so that, if one system fails, the engine will continue to run on the second system.

Another key factor to aircraft safety is quality maintenance. Nearly all aircraft are required to have an annual extensive inspection by an FAA certified inspector. The engine, controls and airframe are thoroughly reviewed and any problems are corrected. Aircraft that fly for hire, such as the ones you would most likely be renting for training, have an additional inspection after every 100 flight hours (which means they could be inspected as often as once a month.)

How does one stay up-to-date on the latest safety information?

Pilots who practice regularly and seek competent instruction should enjoy an excellent safety record.

The Air Safety Institute (ASI), the world’s largest provider of free safety education for general aviation pilots, promotes general aviation safety through analysis, education, and outreach. In addition to conducting research and analyzing safety data, ASI conducts more than 200 free safety seminars all over the country each year to teach pilots and flight instructors new techniques, freshen up current techniques, and to review research on safety studies and accident trends.

ASI also runs the leading flight instructor refresher program in the country. Instructors are required to renew their certificates every two years. Additionally, flying clubs, flight schools, and industry-sponsored organizations offer seminars and materials to help the education process.

AOPA members also receive the association’s magazine, AOPA Pilot, every month to keep them abreast of the latest happenings. 

Explore New Heights

Once you’ve earned your student or sport private pilot’s certificate, you may decide to pursue additional ratings or start working on your next certificate—perhaps a commercial rating or airline transport pilot. Check out AOPA’s Flying as a Career training portal for more detailed information on these pursuits.