Discover the world of flight during International Learn to Fly Day on May 21

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. — (March 15, 2011) — Dreams of flight will become reality for tens of thousands as the second annual International Learn to Fly Day, scheduled for Saturday, May 21, will connect aviators with those who have always wanted to discover flight.

International Learn to Fly Day is an aviation community-wide effort helping people of all ages take that first step to discover the fun, freedom and accomplishment of flight. EAA is encouraging its local chapters to lead the way by offering complementary adult orientation flights on May 21.

EAA views these introductory flights for adults as a key step toward establishing a year-round adult version of its popular Young Eagles program, which has offered free flights to more than 1.6 million young people since 1992. EAA also encourages other aviation organizations and businesses to join in the effort by offering introductory flights, seminars and open houses at airports and other locations throughout the United States and internationally.

Organizations and EAA chapters that are hosting events are encouraged to post their events on International Learn to Fly Day’s website, www.learntofly.org. The website features the ability to find a local event that encourages a person to discover more about flying, and allows a group or company to post an event that welcomes those interested in flying.

“The joy, fulfillment and sense of accomplishment of flying an aircraft is unlike anything else that one can experience,” said Rod Hightower, EAA president. “EAA and its members are committed to providing pathways to participation so more people can enjoy the fun of flying and the world of aviation. We want to share this unique freedom with others, as there are millions of people who have thought, ‘I would love to learn to fly,’ but have never taken the first step. EAA also asks every pilot to individually take a friend flying on May 21.”

Introductory flights spark continued interest in flight, evidenced by recent research of the EAA Young Eagles program. Those receiving flights free of charge through Young Eagles are five times more likely to become pilots than non-Young Eagles. They also already comprise more than seven percent of the United States’ pilot population under age 35.

EAA is hosting a free webinar on International Learn to Fly Day tonight, March 15, at 7 p.m. CDT. Visit www.eaa.org to register or view the archive at a later date. EAA Webinars are supported by Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co.

The inaugural International Learn to Fly Day in 2010 drew more than 40,000 people to nearly 250 events, resulting in more than 500 documented news stories about local events along with countless social network postings. A survey conducted by PilotJourney.com showed 64 percent of respondents introduced to aviation during International Learn to Fly Day planned to pursue flight training afterwards.

Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution in 2010 declaring the third Saturday in May as International Learn to Fly Day, recognizing the contributions of flight instructors, flight schools, aviation groups, and industry in promoting and teaching the nation’s next generation of pilots.

EAA has taken leadership of this important effort because of the organization’s extensive network of nearly 1,000 chapters, which supports and promotes aviation on the local level. Those grassroots chapters offer resources for those interested in flight, whether it is through the chapter’s members or connections with flight schools and instructors.

“EAA chapters offer a very important link to growing the flight community, as chapters are the neighborly connection that welcomes new aviators and those who want to discover more about flight,” Hightower said.

EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world’s most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA’s 160,000 members and 1,000 local chapters enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to www.eaa.org. For continual news updates, connect with www.twitter.com/EAAupdate.

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