Wednesday 22 May 2013 23:52 UTC
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I hope this isn't too controversial a question but could I ask what the reasons were behind requiring applicants for the AOPA Mentoring scheme (Mentees not mentors) to have a Bronze Wings award?
Surely this is just a duplicate of the other mandatory requirements (which include current PPL), but requires additional paperwork to obtain.
I can't see the value of the Bronze award myself because it's at the same level as a PPL - other more advanced levels clearly have a different value.
Perhaps there's more behind this requirement than meets the eye
I still don't see why the Bronze award is a mandatory requirement to apply to become a Mentee.
I can see it's appropriate to encourage Mentees to reach the next level of Wings awards as part of their ongoing development, but that shouldn't require initial applicants to go through the extra hurdle of paperwork required to get the Bronze level. The program can be introduced and benefits fully explained by the mentor once enrolled.
In my view, adding unnecessary additional hurdles simply act as a barrier to potential recruits.
The form itself requires a signature from a CFI which is not trivial for some (I've never formally met the CFI where I fly from), and frankly the Bronze Award seems quite worthless since it's the same as a PPL.
Either there should be some other justification (e.g. ensuring the Flying School/Club approves of the scheme itself, something that doesn't apply to group sharers/owners) or the requirement should be withdrawn.
Perhaps I'm missing something here - if so, please enlighten me
I'm not involved with the Wings Scheme but it's purpose is to provide goals which help to keep people flying. That floats some people's boats and not others. Gliding has the C certificates and the Diamond awards and in sailing, one of my other hobbies there are various certificates to be gained. I can see you have your night rating and things like that are also important to some but not others. I'm off to the US in a week and a half and will probably get my US PPL and seaplane rating while out there (just been fingerprinted today).
Turning to mentoring. Mentoring is emphatically NOT instruction. It does not replace instruction and should never be seen as a substitute. For that reason it is not targeted at the newly minted PPL but rather at those who have achieved their licence, done a bit of flying and are confident with familiar surroundings but now want to branch out. If they are interested in doing some of the things required for the higher levels of the Wings Scheme then mentoring is a good way to gain confidence.
The AOPA Mentoring Scheme has been recognised by the aviation insurance industry, who have given it their blessing and provide cover. Bronze Wings are free and are the base level for participation in the mentoring scheme and being covered. I hope that explanation helps.
Luscombe 8 G-BTCH based at Popham. Pilot based in Savannah GA. AOPA UK Exec Committee Member.
Thanks for providing the additional insights.
Looks like the scheme isn't for me for a while then!
However I don't think my original question has been answered. I can see the purpose and value of the Wings scheme, just can't understand why new Mentees must have a Bronze award. In itself, it doesn't indicate any addition qualifications or experience that's not already covered by other mandatory requirements.
Hope you enjoy your flying in the US
David, the initial Bronze Wings Award is offered free of charge to Pilots when they have gained a Pilot Licence. Just complete a form from the aopa.co.uk website and send it in to the AOPA Office. Don't worry about a CFI signature if that is all that is putting you off - though surely you must come across one in your flying sometime?
As others have said, the idea of the Wings scheme is to provide Pilots with a framework (road map in current parlance?) to attain higher standards, safety and enjoyment in their flying career. Too many pilots, in fact more than 50%, drop out of flying before thier first JAR Licence renewal. Perhaps setting goals, such as the Wings scheme does, will keep more pilots flying?
The Mentoring Scheme is another tool to engage pilots, help them in their flying activities and keep them flying. Aligning it to the Wings scheme, with progressive goals as a pilot gains competence, seemed a good partnership. However, there is no requirements for you to go any further in the Wings scheme other than holding your free Bronze Award. And you don't have to wear it either
Hope to see you register as a Mentee soon.
I wonder what the average total hours this 50% who drop out might have reached?
And then I'd ask how that compares to the 150 hours for the Silver Wngs award? I suspect many new PPL's might only fly 20 hours annually, which could take 5 years to reach that level (assuming ~50 hours to achieve PPL itself).
The conclusion I come to is that the Bronze Award would be better positioned midway between PPL and Silver, which would provide an earlier initial target.
Apart from this, the scheme itself and requirements for other levels seem quite sensible and worthwhile to my (inexperienced) eye.
As you can probably deduce from my earlier comments, I don't see any value in the current Bronze level because it's the same as PPL. I'd only apply for it because it's mandatory when joining the Mentee scheme, which isn't quite yet appropriate for me as a new PPL.
I believe that the Bronze award was set at the PPL experience level as that is an achievement in itself. The gap then to the Silver is representative of a maturing PPL, giving time to build experience at an achieveable, if lengthy, rate. I'll say no more about the WIngs scheme and leave any further response to those in AOPA who designed and oversee it.
There is no data on how soon new PPL's drop out after gaining their licence or before the first renewal. Neither do we know why, after the investment of time and money, they drop out in such large numbers.
You say that the Mentor scheme is not quite yet appropriate to you as a new PPL. Unless you have clear plans on what flying you will be doing in the next year I would suggest now is exactly the time to get involved with the scheme, if only to have an experienced Mentor on hand to answer your questions and help you.
Above all else, keep flying, broaden your horizons and enjoy it.
Perhaps it would be better to say that the Wings Scheme isn't specifically targted at the newly minted PPL holder?
The free Bronze Wings mark someone out as a pilot who is interested in developing skills and experience within a reasonable framework. The Mentoring Scheme assists this devlopment; for example, you might well feel more comfortable flying a navigation exercise (within your licence privileges) in a complicated airspace / RT environment with a mentor than solo.
Incidentally, any Wings 'touring', 'achievements' or 'activities' gained whilst flying as a mentee may count towards future Wings Awards.
Yes, I know pilots hate paperwork - but applying for Bronze Wings is pretty simple - and Mandy in the office doesn't bite!
The reason I had said this was because of Mike's initial reply
I appreciate the further clarification Nick gave
which sets the context better.
My current thinking is that there are a number of more experienced flyers at my local club who might accompany me on the more challenging trips. Instructors are available here and elsewhere for all sorts of advanced training so I probably won't need a mentor to fly with me at this stage.
Some occasional independent informed guidance and goal setting + being able to debrief on any unusual/new/unfamiliar experiences - similar to what I've provided to others in my (non flying) business context - is probably more what I'd be looking for.
Whilst that might well be the case, the significant advantage of an AOPA Mentor is that he/she will have been assessed as a person who can give useful advice legally and correctly. Bear in mind that a 'more experienced flyer' could just pass on his/her bad habits and become more of a hindrance than a help!
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