The original Wings Scheme designed to provide a framework for Pilots to develop and maintain their flying skills and enjoy flying. See below for full details
"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 original and most comprehensive scheme of this type. It is also the first to gain the endorsement of the CAA under their PROUD initiative.
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.
To maintain your enjoyment of flying keep it interesting and develop your skills and knowledge through :
- Air touring experience
- Flying to different places
- Additional training and qualification
- Personal development
- Aviation seminars
The key for many is to get involved with your local flying community through:
- Social Clubs
- Organised flying tours away from base
- 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, 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.
The scheme 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)
|Minimum PIC Time (hours)
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
Recognised achievements include:
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 variants / types in application e.g. PA28, C172, DHC1 etc)
1 Royal Aero Club handicapped Air Race
Alternative achievements will be considered when submitted with the relevant supporting documentation
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
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
To encourage cross-country flying, qualifying touring flight requirements are required. These must have been achieved after licence issue and 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:
- 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
- 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 overnight stops, of at least 300 nm (aeroplanes) / 120 nm (helicopters), in the course of which full stop landings at 2 aerodromes different from the aerodrome of departure are made.
- The pilot is to be PIC for each flight claimed,
- the aerodromes of departure and arrival must be different (except for the 300/120 nm flight), and
- the pilot must have flown at a total of no less than 6 different aerodromes
- 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 overnight stops, of at least 450 nm (aeroplanes) / 180 nm (helicopters), in the course of which full stop landings at 3 aerodromes different from the aerodrome of departure are made.
- The pilot is to be PIC for each flight claimed,
- the aerodromes of departure and arrival must be different (except for the 450/180 nm flight), and
- the pilot must have flown at a total of no less than 9 different aerodromes
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 DTO/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 by posting to Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association at the registered address shown in the footer of this page or by email to
Wings Awards are FREE to all AOPA UK Members
Wings Awards cost £10 for non-Members.
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.
NOTE: Wings Award applicants who are not existing AOPA Individual Members, but who subsequently become so, will have their administration fees refunded.
"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.