Innovative Cessna Internship Program Showcases Skycatcher Capability, Develops Interest in General Aviation
Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, developed a unique internship program this summer which challenged high-energy aviation students from around the country to see who could generate the most awareness and hands-on experience for the innovative Cessna Skycatcher. The inaugural “Cessna Discover Flying Challenge” commenced on June 23 at the Cessna Open House in Independence, Kan., an event which commemorated the company’s 85 year anniversary. The internship draws to a close this week at the annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture 2012 in Oshkosh, Wis.
The pilots departed from Cessna’s Independence facility in new Skycatchers with customized paint schemes that identify their participation in the program. During the program’s run, the pilots attended various fly-ins, air shows and visited Cessna Pilot Centers. As part of their creative efforts to drive awareness and virtual engagement in their journey, they posted videos on the Cessna YouTube channel, and updated Facebook and Twitter feeds documenting their adventure as they flew from one destination to the next.
“The Skycatcher is such a unique and accessible aircraft that we wanted to introduce it to the flying public in a manner that reflected the same. We could have opted for traditional advertising, but the Skycatcher is something that you just have to experience – it is an awesome aircraft,” said Tracy Leopold, Cessna business leader for the Skycatcher. “Our pilot interns had the unique ability to introduce people to the product and take them on training flights to experience the aircraft firsthand. We have found when people are exposed to flight in a Skycatcher, their interest in the product increases.
”Fans followed each pilot’s journey through the Cessna Discover Flying Challenge website or through links on the Cessna Facebook page. Followers also tracked the pilot’s progress and could see the schedule of appearances around the country.
Luke Patterson, a native of Liberal, Kan. and a graduate of Kansas State University – Salina, says the Discover Flying Challenge has reinforced his decision to pursue aviation as a career. “This program has been incredible. I would have never imagined I could learn so much in a few short weeks. I have flown to great destinations, met so many people inspired by aviation and been inspired myself along the way.
”One of the pilot interns in the program is Zoe Cunningham – a senior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, Fla., majoring in aeronautical science with minors in air traffic control and applied meteorology. “I’ve had a wonderful summer with Cessna and the other pilots in this program. Being able to fly the Skycatcher around the Great Lakes has just been a great privilege, and giving orientation flights to flight instructors and presenting the aircraft to others has been rewarding. This has been a fantastic hands-on learning experience.
”Conor Dancy, a native of Leesburg, Va., and a senior at George Mason University, says that this Cessna internship has been one of the best experiences of his life. “Cessna has given me the opportunity to fly to many new places, meet hundreds of new people, and introduce those people to a more cost-effective way of flying in the Skycatcher. I’m truly grateful that Cessna has developed this program, and I believe it has been a success.”