Program Has Multiple Successes, New Features and Ideas
Be A Pilot president
Drew Steketee started his talk at the AOPA Expo with the news that
pilot inquiries at Be A Pilot were down 20% at one point this year.
"Oh, great; that's his lead -- and the bad news is?" we were
asking. However, he quickly noted that it's down just 3.2% as of
September's end, and perhaps just half that figure, now -- and,
with the awareness of the Wrights' Centennial and the great current
trend, the year should actually show an improvement. The downward
trend in pilot starts may have bottomed out.
Wait... It Gets Better
From that pronouncement forward, it was all good news, and he
just kept piling it on.
What the improvement shows is that the second half of 2003
has been great, and this good trend is accelerating. There
is hope for the future, and Be A Pilot is both helping
create, and riding, that wave for all it's worth... and it's a
significant part of the future.
Through a tightly-monitored ad campaign, Be A Pilot has kept its
cost per television lead down to $32, which is only 1.4%
more-expensive than last year; and, as the response rates keep
rising, Steketee may be getting a better bargain than that, soon.
Be A Pilot has also started some "per-inquiry" television
advertising (also known as "direct marketing.") In other words, the
Be A Pilot ad runs until the agreed-upon number of inquiries
results. "It's a nearly-guaranteed cost-per-inquiry," Drew said,
and it's getting results.
Can already-pilots go to the Be A Pilot Site?
The push to introduce non-pilots to the joys and utility of
flying is soon to be augmented by another feature, that will be of
interest to pilots, as well.
"It's not an airport directory," said Drew, "and it's not a
travel guide." What it is, is a section of the website called,
Places Pilots Know. It's a compendium of those places we
know about, that perhaps aren't on the way, when you're
What Places Pilots
Know will do for the prospect-pilot is introduce him to the
side of pleasure flying that is often overlooked as he tries to get
his ticket. Beyond that, it will give those 100~200 hour pilots
something to do, rather than tootle around the patch working on
proficiency (only), or who is getting bored with the local
hundred-buck burgers. It's a gateway to some interesting places
that pilots know about.. and that the general public doesn't
Show them an interesting thing to do in an airplane, and
they'll want to learn to fly... and, just as importantly --
they'll keep flying, once they've developed some
proficiency and confidence.
Just in time for Christmas:
The famous Be A Pilot $49 Introductory Flight will be featured
in a few more television spots, as we get closer to the Wright
anniversary (December 17). In fact, on The History Channel,
December 16 and 17, a two-hour Wright Special will air, and it will
have Be A Pilot spots, highlighting not just the successful
'lifestyle' items -- Freedom, Transport, and Excitement -- but also
(thanks to the proliferation of glass cockpits and modern engine
controls, among other things) "Technology."
"Want a FAST computer?" The ads will say.
"How's 200 miles an hour?" and
"This is no video game... This is flying!" will be
added to the mix.
With these ads' running so close to Christmas, they will also
note that the Be A Pilot certificates are now downloadable from the
website -- you still have time for that thoughtful gift, or
even that impulse gift!
Most-Importantly, Be A Pilot works.
It's been a few years
since Drew took the helm at the organization, and his meticulous
attention to followup has borne some remarkable numbers. Of the
roughly 67,000 inquiries Be A Pilot has garnered, some 5000 pilots
have been generated. Of those 5000, nearly 1400 hold
private tickets. Beyond that, Be A Pilot alums number
in their ranks, 222 commercial pilots, and 40
ATPs. Not bad, for a five-year program!
You can Be A Part of this.
It's never a bad time to get a pilot's interest started, and,
with the easy download of the certificate, you can do it today.
Beyond that, think about your favorite pilot place, and maybe take
a picture, or grab a brochure; jot down the coordinates and some
features that make it interesting. It can be a particularly good
place to go by airplane, or an otherwise little-known place that's
a favorite of pilots. Get the facts together, and contribute your
gem to the Places Pilots Know.
Be A Pilot is one of the two best ways we know of to get new
pilots started (and Young Eagles isn't for your middle-aged
friends; Be A Pilot knows no age limits). Think of that friend
who's tagged along on a trip with you, or that car-pooler who has
asked a question or two about your flying, or the parents of your
kid's friend, who were interested in that vacation you took in your
Cherokee or 172 -- or your boss, who's always griping about how
long it takes to drive to the branch office. Then download a Be A
Pilot flight for him or her, and Be A Supporter of Aviation.