November 9, 2017
Flight Consultations Promote Collaboration
Over the past six months, COPA has embarked on a new initiative to consult with representatives of our 147 active COPA Flights across Canada. The purpose of this exercise is to connect staff in the office with our representatives in the regions and open up the conduit of information exchange within our organization.
This year, consultation sessions were held in the Lower Mainland of B.C. Saskatchewan, Southwest Ontario, Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec, and Moncton. The dialogue at these sessions produced new ideas about some of the issues with the COPA Flight program, where the organization is going as a whole, possible new priorities, and ways to refine our products and services to better deliver our mandate of advancing, promoting, and preserving the Canadian freedom to fly.
By far the biggest point of discussion at our consultations was around the need for better dialogue between COPA in Ottawa and the COPA Flight captains. Flight captains felt the need to be better supported in terms of being able to speak about COPA’s initiatives and other topics of the day. COPA committed to more, regular and relevant, communication to the flight captains with information targeted at helping the flights promote our mandate and keeping up to date on our organization’s activities. We will be launching a new, monthly newsletter for COPA Flight captains to share with their flights as well as adding new tools to the tool kit that COPA provides the flights.
Another much-discussed topic was the shortcomings of the COPA for Kids program. The current structure of the program does not lend easily to follow-up with kids after the event day, and also does not adequately encourage those kids who are of the age to leave a COPA for Kids event and begin flight training. Multiple suggestions were made about adopting a Young Eagles-style of model where pilots could fly kids at any time throughout the year. In conjunction with our marketing committee, a review is underway of the program and changes will roll out in time for the 2018 flying season. Part of the review is also looking at ways to expand the COPA for Kids program to introduce other demographics to general aviation.
The other main point of discussion concerned the rising average age of our organization’s membership and figuring out new ways not just of introducing younger people to GA, but encouraging them to take an active role in the GA community. For COPA’s part, we see the COPA flights playing a primary role in identifying and encouraging potential future candidates for the association’s board of directors. As members of the industry concerned with ensuring the freedoms we enjoy remain available and accessible to future generations, it is incumbent on all of us to take an active role not just in introducing people to general aviation, but to take leadership roles in all aspects: local, regional, and national. In your own circles, consider new ideas of how you can encourage the next group of GA pilots and their families to participate.
This year’s COPA flight consultations were a great success and we are building on that success by making this a recurring element of COPA’s annual operations. In 2018, we will be reaching out to our COPA Flights in Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, and the North to consult with them on the issues they see facing our organization and general aviation as a whole. We are excited about this new evolution within COPA and we are looking forward to empowering our COPA Flights to play a major role in furthering our mandate.