Cessna Aircraft is promoting flying and its light sport aircraft, the Skycatcher, in a program called Discover Flying Challenge.
The company has hired eight graduates from university aviation programs to fly the Skycatcher around the country, and a ninth graduate to act as dispatcher.
The pilots, who are also certified flight instructors, were in Wichita this week for training.
“It’s a program we developed to get people interested in the 162,” said Cessna spokesman Andy Woodward.
The pilots will meet at Cessna’s open house at its Independence plant Saturday before flying to the regions of the country to which they have been assigned.
In July, they will show off the planes at fly-ins, air shows, fixed base operators and Cessna Pilot Centers.
Along the way, they will update Facebook and Twitter feeds and blog about their activities, Woodward said.
The pilots will reunite at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, Wis., in late July.
Two of the pilots are graduates of Kansas State University’s aviation program in Salina.
“We wanted to do something different, something that would get the attention of the next generation of pilots while at the same time getting the Skycatcher in front of the public,” Tracy Leopold, business leader for the 162 Skycatcher, said in a statement.
Cessna’s open house in Independence on Saturday celebrates the delivery of its 10,000th airplane from the factory, which opened in July 1996.
The plane, a Cessna 206, will be delivered that day to Moser Aviation, an Englewood, Colo.-based charter, consulting and aircraft management business.
The open house is expected to include local officials who helped bring the Cessna plant to Independence 16 years ago, after a keen competition from multiple communities for the facility.
Cessna’s Independence plant assembles the 172, 182 and 206 single-engine aircraft and the Citation Mustang business jet. It recently began assembling the 162 Skycatcher at the site. It employs 460 people.
Cessna’s website for the summer challenge program is www.facebook.com/CessnaAircraftCompany.