How Are You Finding New Pilots? – Let me share how I do it!

Do you operate a Flying Club run a Flight Training school? How are you tackling the challenges of finding new pilots? If you are like many places you probably aren’t tackling these challenges and failing. The reason is that you assume too much, don’t think out of the box, or try the same old thing and expect change.

Let me share a few things that I have done to generate leads. Yes, I said generate LEADS because that is what YOU are looking to do. We aren’t talking huge budgets we are talking about self promotion and generating leads online.

You Can’t Promote in a Desert

You need to draw in people using the bait that attracts them to an airport and then once you get them in, they can and do tell others.

People really only think of two things when it comes to small airplanes:

  • Airplane Rides
  • Getting a Pilots License (Bucket List for the 25-45 yr old crowd)

I came to a decision awhile ago that if I didn’t help promote general aviation, nobody else would. So I threw caution to the wind and built a site called:

This little one page wonder has generated 140 leads in a year and half for either airplane rides or for people interested in becoming a Student Pilot. I forward these leads to the only airport who accepted my invitation (Canandaigua) to take them…at no charge…for free. It just happened that my local airport was the only one out of 5 that I contacted who would participate or even return my email. Yes, only in our industry do you find people who don’t have an interest in generating revenue from leads that cost them NOTHING!

Next was a chance to do even more for aviation and again I threw caution to the wind again and this year I redesigned a site that I had for a few years for…again…my local airport:

I was inclusive and setup a “Flight Training” page and with the help from the Flight Training school (who I send the other leads to) I received copy and promoted their flight training at:

This year this new page has generated 35 flight training requests.

So in the last year and a half I have generated 175 leads for my little local airport. I charged NOTHING, was paid NOTHING and used my online marketing experience and focused on the two things that people want to do with a small airplane. No Capital was needed to do this. A little sweat equity was all that was needed and you can freely replicate this as well for your own use.

In addition to these sites I also revamped our flying club web site (for the second time) and focused on the people walking of the street looking to maybe learn how to fly. So I threw caution to the wind and built a site without asking for permission called:

I kept it as simple as I could and clean. It’s functional for prospects and existing members. And it doesn’t fudge the numbers as far as rates or flight training costs and we talk about the responsibilities of membership. Information and rates are kept current. I even posted a repaint of one of our aircraft for use in Microsoft FSX, so you can fly the plane at home on your simulator.

There are always challenges but they can be overcome. Sure having a Cirrus SR20 for $165 / wet-based on Tach Time helps but it’s not the answer and more work needs to be done. Above all else…the planes must be affordable.

A Final Thought

I am just a pilot. I’m not rated. I don’t have a career in aviation. But I believe you need to GIVE in order to GET. And I believe it’s time…and time is running out…to give your time and talent to bringing on the next student pilot, or the next smiling child who had their first flight, or the middle lifer with a bucket list…a taste of what we take for granted. We take for granted the freedom of flight. And like every freedom, it will be taken away if we don’t use it and spread it from today’s generation to the next and to the next.

Stop waiting for the NEXT person to do it. Get involved!