Archive for May, 2009

Playing in Peoria at the Illinois Aviation Conference

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

I was very pleased to accept an invitation from Andy Priester, president of the Illinois Aviation Trades Association, to speak at this week’s annual Conference in Peoria.  It was great to have a chance to share ideas and discuss issues with leaders in aviation from throughout Illinois.

My focus was on our new campaign, General Aviation Serves America.  We are excited to find growing enthusiasm for this campaign to help opinon leaders and decision makers across the country better understand the value of general aviation and it’s critical contribution to the nation’s air transportation system.  Andy surprised with the news that IATA elected to support GA Serves America with a generous contribution.  THANK YOU, IATA!

The visit to Illinois also gave me an opportunity to recognize the leadership of Illinois’ Congressman Jerry Costello.  His leadership as chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee is something we are grateful for every day. His full engagement addressing security issues and opposition to user fees are key examples of his commitment to general aviation.

I left this afternoon very appreciative for the opportunity to share what we are doing with these aviation champions.   The spontaneous applause for the GA Serves America video showing our ad program suggested to me that Harrison Ford definitely plays well in Peoria!

A Day at Sporty’s

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Today, Karen and I enjoyed a great time at Sporty’s world headquarters in Batavia, Ohio.  As most know, it is located right at the Clermont County Airport (I69).

We joined with hundreds of other pilots to hear the winner of the new Cessna Skyhawk announced.  A pilot from Portland, Oregon was the lucky winner and he was reached by phone while we stood by to hear his reaction to the good news.  You can learn more about the plane and the winner by CLICKING HERE.

Of course, there were plenty of aircraft to check out and a many great products to look at during the fly-in.

Not to be missed were the barbecued hot dogs!  And, I found out they are available every Saturday….

Many thanks to Hal Shevers and all the folks at Sporty’s for the great time!

AOPA Turns Seventy Years Strong!

Friday, May 15th, 2009

It was seventy years ago at Wings Field in Pennsylvania that an inspired group of aviators formed an organization to protect and promote general aviation.  I think they would be proud of those who have shared their dream and built the AOPA of today. 

We are pausing this morning to celebrate what we are referring to simply as AOPA SevenZero.

To take us back a few decades, the display featured here was awaiting us outside the doors of our headquarters at the Frederick Airport in Maryland.

Happy 70th Anniversary!

GA serves the world

Thursday, May 14th, 2009


I have just returned from a whirlwind trip to Montreal, Canada, where I had the privilege of telling the general aviation story to leaders of the international civil aviation community.


I spoke before the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council about the value that general aviation brings to all the countries where it is allowed to thrive.


At times this has been a very sore point. In many countries, general aviation struggles just to survive under the burdens of heavy user fees, strict regulations, and prohibitive cost structures.


But recently, I have seen some real progress in this arena.


The European Parliament recently adopted a sweeping pro-GA resolution. The Agenda for Sustainable Future in General and Business Aviation, as it is called, acknowledges the differences between GA and commercial operations and calls on member nations to invest in general aviation. It also stresses the importance of keeping regulation in proportion and ensuring GA access to airspace and airports.


It’s somehow ironic that even as Europe is coming to a greater understanding of the many benefits GA brings and actively taking steps to nurture it, we in the United States are facing some of the greatest threats GA has seen in a generation or more. Perhaps the biggest of these is something that has caused so much harm to general aviation in other countries: user fees. More than $9 billion a year, if the President’s budget is adopted.


Naturally, I spoke about the GA Serves America Campaign, and how we are using it to educate decision makers in this country. I also talked about how those ideas are true all across the globe. Really, GA serves the world.


It was wonderful to be able to share this story with an appreciative audience at ICAO—a body that deals mainly with commercial aviation. They were interested to learn about the many missions GA flies and had numerous questions about safety and the work of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. After the presentation, several participants came up to me to express their thanks for the reminder that GA is a vital part of the global transportation system.


At the end of my presentation, I reaffirmed my personal commitment to be part of the solution to the many challenges facing all of aviation. And I had the chance to give the ICAO representatives a model of a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, just like the one I own and fly. They promptly displayed it in their chamber where it joined numerous commercial models.


I hope it will serve as a reminder that GA rightfully holds a place as a valuable component of the aviation community all over the world.

Open House at Georgetown, Delaware (KGED)

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

After flying about 30 hours in the past eight days, I looked forward to a flight in my Bonanza to the beach late Friday afternoon.  I headed from Frederick, MD to Sussex County/Georgetown (KGED) – an airport that has become very familiar over the nearly 18 years we have been traveling to a home at a beach community in Delaware. 

On arrival, I picked up a crew car from the good folks at the FBO and learned from Delmarva Aviation’s Garrett Dernoga that they were sponsoring an open house and had encouraged Cirrus owners to fly in.  I checked to see if our Sweepstakes Cirrus SR22 was in the area and learned that PILOT’s Dave Hirschman welcomed the chance to fly over this morning for breakfast at the airport’s fine restaurant.

As things turned out, the Georgetown pilots group was meeting for breakfast and our fine airport support network (ASN) representative, Bob Young, was in attendance.  He invited me to speak….and, I invited the members to go take a look at the sweepstakes plane.

Dave and I along with our good friend Ray Gebhart spent the next few hours visiting with people who came to the airport by plane and by car.

After all the places I have been during the past 8 days, it was great to just spend some time at a local airport talking to friends who fly.  We are finding more opportunities to “fly out” from our base in Frederick….this was one day that just seemed to come together naturally….and, sometimes that’s the best way!