Planes: The Movie and the Future of Flight

The future of flight relies on students who choose to pursue a degree in aviation for many reasons including: career opportunities, to see the world and work anywhere in it, a strong passion for flying, and now because of Dusty Crophopper -- a crop dusting plane with a fear of heights?

If you don’t know, Dusty Crophopper is the animated lead in “Planes”, which has grossed over $100 million worldwide. Could this movie foster a new generation of aviation enthusiasts and future pilots? Dani Pimentel recently shared why he thinks this movie certainly won’t hurt the potential crop. And apparently it’s happened before.

Earlier this summer at TEDx Rock Creek Park, Scott DiGiammarino delivered a talk on “Why Movies Move Us.” His insights touched on the impact movies have on society and the science behind it.  Have a fear of swimming in the ocean? The chances are you’ve likely seen “Jaws.”According to DiGiammarino 50% of the world is afraid of swimming in the ocean and 80% of them were too afraid to go in the water because of “Jaws.”  He also knows that enrollment in martial arts classes tripled in the year “The Karate Kid” came out, and after the release of “Top Gun,” recruitment of Naval aviators increased by 500%. 

It’s too early to tell if Dusty Crophopper himself will influence the children of today to become the pilots of tomorrow but one thing is for certain, with the estimated shortfall of U.S. pilots expected to grow to 34,000 by 2024 the industry is in need of a recruitment boost.  So what can we learn from “Planes” as it relates to recruiting today and marketing to millennials?

Let’s compare the storyline of “Planes” to recruitment challenges you’re likely facing.

Dusty Crophopper’s dreams of being a racer are scorned by his unsupportive boss

Future student pilots face a similar challenge in getting support from their parents or legal guardian. A parent’s primary concern regarding a career in aviation is cost.  From a recruitment standpoint understanding stakeholder concerns is important, but it is even more important to address these concerns when marketing to not only your prospective students but also their bosses (the parents).

Dusty struggled to overcome his fear of heights

Encouragement and support is an important driver in helping anyone overcome their fears. A key concern for aviation students today is job placement and career advancement. In your recruiting message be sure to address these fears head on and ensure students the aviation industry is growing -- after all 52,500 additional pilots are needed each year. 

More than just learning to fly

Like any good animated movie there are life lessons to be had from Dusty Crophopper.  Confidence, and adaptability are two that quickly come to mind.  For prospective student pilots the experience of flight training goes beyond a career in aviation. In a survey of 300 student pilots top life skills one can expect to receive from flight training include: confidence, multi-tasking, time management, problem solving, and adaptability.  According to AOL Jobs these skills are all among the top ten sought after skills by employers.  Whether students are able to follow a career path into the world of aviation or simply become a weekend warrior the experience of flight training provides skills and experience directly applicable to a career up in the air or outside the cockpit.

The potential is certainly there for Dusty Crophopper to influence a new generation of pilots to compete in their own Wings Across the World race, but until then use lessons from Dusty as you think about your student recruitment.