AOPA Wings Award Scheme
"Learning should be fun. If you don't have fun in aviation then you don't learn."
— 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.
How do you prolong your enthusiasm for flying?
In short, keep flying and developing your skills through :
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.
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 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)
- Seminar Attendance
- Air Touring Experience
"It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill."
— Wilbur Wright
|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.
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:
|Total number of achievements||2||4||6|
Recognised achievements include:
Addition of any additional Rating or Certificate.
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.
Conversion to three additional and distinct types of aircraft (state types in application e.g. PA28, C172, DHC1 etc)
1 Royal Aero Club handicapped Air Race
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.
Each level requires the applicant to have attended a number of approved seminars:
|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.
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:
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 fees have 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
If you are a Flying Club or established flying Group, why not promote and manage a Wings Scheme locally?
If you are a training organisation, how do you nurture your Pilot Students after they have completed their initial training? Do you engage with them and help keep them interested in flying, or just leave then to drift and stop flying not long after gaining their licence? The same applies to established flying groups.
Keeping pilots engaged and excited about flying means that they will fly more hours, which is good for business and aircraft life, be better pilots and possibly extend their licence privileges with additional ratings.
Building the Wings Scheme into a social side of your business/group is a way to do this. If you run the AOPA Wings Scheme locally and register with AOPA we can simplify the application process for you and, with AOPA approval, adapt the scheme for your local needs. If you are also an AOPA Corporate member we can list your scheme on our website. You might also be interested in running a Mentoring Scheme based on the AOPA Framework. If you are interested please contact Pauline Vahey for more details. (Note: If your browser doesn't work with your mail client right click on the link and select the copy email option).