|Ryan Todd will join five other Cessna pilot interns at Oshkosh this month as part of the company's Discover Flying Challenge.
July 2, 2013 - EAA welcomed Ryan Todd, a pilot intern for Cessna's Discover Flying Challenge, to Oshkosh this week to hear more about the program and show him around the AirVenture grounds, where he and his fellow interns will work out of Cessna's exhibit during the show.
The Discover Flying Challenge provides six young pilots with brand new Cessna 172 Skyhawks to fly around their respective regions (Ryan is in the Great Lakes) in an effort to show off the aircraft and spread the joy of flying, raising awareness for their five nonprofit community partners in the process.
Cessna's community partners for 2013 are the United Way, American Red Cross, Special Olympics, Veterans' Airlift Command, and our own EAA Young Eagles.
"It's really rewarding to be able to fly and spread the word about these organizations," Ryan said. "I have been part of promoting the American Red Cross' CPR/AED classes and it's great knowing those things really do save lives."
Ryan also mentioned one of his favorite parts was interacting with Young Eagles. "It's great to be able to spread the word about flight, and I really like answering the funny questions the kids come up with in regards to my plane."
Ryan and the six other intern-pilots were selected from a large group of applicants following a "typical application" as well as a YouTube video explaining why they should be given the opportunity.
Ryan grew up in Van Wert, Ohio, where he learned to fly, and now attends Eastern Michigan University, where he majors in flight technology (or "professional piloting," as he explained it).
His fellow interns were selected from all across the country and, following a weeklong training course in their aircraft, departed Strother Field Industrial Park in Winfield, Kansas, to begin their mission of spreading the charitable word.
As well as word of mouth, the young pilots all must provide social media updates about their journeys via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
"With the social media connection, Cessna is reaching the younger generation," Ryan said. "And it's fun posting pictures of all the things I'm getting to do."
Cessna also urges the charities to use the social media outlets, and is awarding $25,000 to the community partner who has the most social media interaction during the tenure of the Discover Flying Challenge.
"Cessna is passionate about making airplanes and promoting aviation pride. Pairing this passion with an opportunity to give back to worthy organizations is at the heart of our heritage as Cessnans," said Jodi Noah, senior vice president of single engine and turboprop aircraft. "We selected our Discover Flying Challenge charities based on Cessna's specific areas of community involvement: human services, education, quality of life, and promotion of aviation, and are excited to give them another platform from which their inspiring stories can be shared."
In addition to following the young pilots' journeys on Facebook, Cessna has also posted the pilots' itineraries on SocialFlight, a free website and app that will not only show where the pilots are going, but also some things they have already done.
Ryan says that EAA has been his favorite stop so far and is very excited fly in to AirVenture for the first time. He attended AirVenture in 2011, where he also became an EAA member (EAA 1065681), but has yet to get the full experience of coming to Oshkosh by plane.
Stop in and see Ryan and all of his fellow interns at the Cessna exhibit all week during AirVenture this year.