AOPA UK

AOPA Wings Award Scheme

"Learning should be fun. If you don't have fun in aviation then you don't learn, and when learning stops, you die."

— Pete Campbell, FAA

Launched in 2003, the AOPA Wings Award Scheme is the first and most comprehensive scheme of this type. It is also the first to gain the endorsement of the CAA under the PROUD initiative. Others follow.  

It is a sad fact that the majority of Pilots stop flying within 5 years of earning their Pilot licence, despite the financial and emotional investment. It seems that many of these stop flying because they either got bored or lost confidence in their ability. This scheme, and the PROUD initiative, are intended to help reverse this trend.

  • Wings Awards 1
  • Wings Awards 2
  • Wings Awards 3
  • WIngs Awards 4

How do you prolong your enthusiasm for flying?

In short, keep flying and developing your skills through :

  • Air touring experience
  • Additional training and qualification
  • Broadening pilots’ activities and interests
  • Encouraging personal development and flight safety awareness through aviation seminars.

The key for many is to get involved with your local flying community through:

  • Social Clubs
  • Organised flying tours away from base
  • Flying with a Mentor
  • Social events with learning activities

As a pilot you will be used to planning each flying trip, so why not have a plan for your continued flying enjoyment and development?

The Wings Award Scheme, developed by AOPA and endorsed by the CAA PROUD initiative, provides you with a structured framework to do just this. It is freely available to be adopted by any Flying Club, Pilot Group or individual Pilots, You can even propose your own local activities to make the scheme more meaningful to you where you are based, subject to validation by AOPA.

You do not need to be an AOPA Member to use the scheme, but it would be nice if you did join.

How the Scheme Works

The scheme is endorsed as meeting the CAA's Pilot Recognition for Operational Up-skilling and Development (PROUD) criteria and is open to all Private or Professional Pilots flying single pilot aeroplanes or helicopters, whether or not they are AOPA members. Within all flying activities for AOPA Wings Awards, it is essential that safety is the primary concern.  In meeting the requirements of the scheme the applicant is expected to seek to attain high standards in training, engage in thorough preparation, make the correct use of standard operating procedures and display sound levels of airmanship.

There are four levels of award in the scheme:

Bronze
Silver
Gold
Platinum

Bronze wings are offered FREE to anyone who has gained a pilot licence and applies to AOPA.

For the higher levels of award, additional criteria need to be met:

  • Minimum Flight Times, both Total and as Pilot-in-Command (PIC)
  • Achievements
  • Seminar Attendance
  • Air Touring Experience

"It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill."

— Wilbur Wright

Minimum Flight Times

AWARD LEVEL SILVER GOLD PLATINUM
Minimum Total Flight Time (hours) 150 300 500
Minimum PIC Time (hours) 70 200 400

Note: Pilots holding professional pilot licences may count only those hours which have not been gained in the course of commercial activities.
Instructors may include those hours which have been gained whilst giving flight instruction in single pilot aeroplanes or helicopters.

Achievements

As a pilot develops his/her flying experience from Bronze through to Platinum Wings, each stage of the scheme requires two additional achievements to be gained:

AWARD LEVEL SILVER GOLD PLATINUM
Total number of achievements 2 4 6

Recognised achievements include:

Flying qualifications Training Activities
Addition of any additional Rating or Certificate.
Upgrade from NPPL/LAPL to PPL.
Display Authorisation.
PPL 'follow on' courses (e.g.. Ultimate High Advanced PPL Syllabus, Skysport UK Pilot Validation Certificate etc.).
Royal Aero Club Records, Racing & Rally Association Air Race School.
Two items of differences training for complex features (e.g.. retractable gear, VP propeller, turbo charger, pressurisation, nose-wheel to tail-wheel (and vice versa), aeroplanes with single power lever controls and aircraft with electronic ('glass') flight instruments.

Complete:

1  Royal Aero Club handicapped Air Race
1  British Aerobatics Association Aerobatic Competition
1 British Precision Flying Association Precision Flying Competition
1 Royal Institute of Navigation Competition

Note: The scheme is flexible and the examples above are not exhaustive. Alternative achievements may be considered when submitted to AOPA with the relevant supporting documentation.

Seminar Attendance

Each level requires the applicant to have attended a number of approved seminars:

AWARD LEVEL SILVER GOLD PLATINUM
Total number of approved Seminars attended 1 2 3

Currently approved seminars are:

  • GASCo Safety Evening
  • GASCo Flight Safety Forum
  • Flight Instructor Refresher Seminar
  • Military Civil Air Safety Day
  • Weather School courses (various providers)
  • Irv Lee's PPL Masterclass
  • RAeC “Three R’s” Race School Day
  • NATS visit with infringements presentation
  • Light Aviation Sea Survival Course
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Course
  • Any other seminar or safety event approved by AOPA or an AOPA Corporate organisation

Proof  of attendance will be required. This may be in the form of a letter, or a certificate, or a stamp in pilot’s log book etc.

Air Touring Experience

To encourage cross-country flying, qualifying touring flight requirements are required.  These may not include flights flown by professional pilot licence holders in the course of commercial activities.  Applicants will be required to show proof of having met the specific requirements outlined below:

SILVER:

  • An accumulated total of 300 nm of touring flights of not less than 30 nm per flight. 
  • The pilot is to be PIC for each flight claimed;
  • the aerodromes of departure and arrival must be different, and
  • the pilot must have flown at a total of no less than 3 different aerodromes

GOLD:

  • An accumulated total of 500 nm of touring flights of not less than 30 nm per flight, which may include previous touring flights at Silver level. 
  • One flight is to be a VFR cross-country flight, which may include an overnight stop, of at least 300 nm (aeroplanes) / 100 nm (helicopters), in the course of which full stop landings at 2 aerodromes different from the aerodrome of departure are made; each leg should be flown consecutively.
  • The pilot is to be PIC for each flight claimed,
  • the aerodromes of departure and arrival must be different (except for the 300/100 nm flight), and
  • the pilot must have flown at a total of no less than 4 different aerodromes

PLATINUM:

  • An accumulated total of 600 nm of touring flights of not less than 30 nm per flight, which may include previous touring flights at Silver and/or Gold level
  • One flight is to be a VFR cross-country flight, which may include an overnight stop, of at least 450 nm (aeroplanes) / 150 nm (helicopters), in the course of which full stop landings at 3 aerodromes different from the aerodrome of departure are made; each leg should be flown consecutively.
  • The pilot is to be PIC for each flight claimed,
  • the aerodromes of departure and arrival must be different (except for the 450/150 nm flight), and
  • the pilot must have flown at a total of no less than 5 different aerodromes

APPLYING FOR A WINGS AWARD

The initial application may be for any level of the Wings Award, but must provide details of all the related qualifying flying, achievements and seminars.  If the applicant is a member of an AOPA Corporate organisation, the application (with supporting evidence) should be presented for authentication to the CFI/HoT of the RF/ATO, who will confirm that the relevant requirements have been met and notify AOPA accordingly.

Alternatively, the application (with supporting evidence) may be presented to the Chief Executive of AOPA through the Administrative Secretary, AOPA, 50a Cambridge Street, London, SW1V 4QQ.

Wings Awards are FREE to all AOPA UK Members

Wings Awards cost £10 for non-Members.

An application form may be downloaded here

Provided that the necessary requirements have been met and the relevant administrative fee has been paid to AOPA, the appropriate AOPA Wings Award badge and certificate will be issued.  These will be sent to the address requested by the applicant.

We are currently reviewing the application process, hoping to involve Corporate Members of AOPA in the process and gain more recognition for holders of higher Wings Awards.

"Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognise a mistake when you make it again"

- Franklin P Jones 

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