Archive for April, 2010

Innovations in Albuquerque

Friday, April 30th, 2010

I’ve spent the past two days in Albuquerque, New Mexico, visiting a couple of amazingly innovative general aviation companies and getting a first-hand look at their impressive products.

I had a great visit with John Uczekaj at Aspen Avionics.

I had a great visit with John Uczekaj at Aspen Avionics.

On Thursday, I had the chance to spend some time with John Uczekaj, president and CEO of Aspen Avionics. We had a great meeting and I really enjoyed touring their facility, where I had the chance to meet many more of the technical and management staff. I was impressed by the experience and commitment of this group—and of course I had the chance to get a good look at Aspen’s Evolution Flight Display glass cockpit system. John and his team are committed to bringing the top-end technology available in commercial aircraft into GA cockpits at affordable prices, and Evolution system’s design allows you to make the switch from traditional instruments to a fully integrated glass cockpit all at once or in stages. You can see how the system works on this AOPA Live video from Sun ‘n Fun.

The Eclipse 500 VLJ is a fun aircraft to fly.

The Eclipse 500 VLJ is a fun aircraft to fly.

Today, Friday, I am at another innovative company, Eclipse Aviation. I love to fly all kinds of aircraft so I was especially excited that AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines and I had the chance to take a flight in an Eclipse 500. VLJs (very light jets) like this one are continuing to change the marketplace and open jet ownership to a wider audience, a bit like the way light sport aircraft are reshaping opportunities for piston pilots.

It’s heartening that everywhere I go I see GA companies continuing to innovate despite tough economic conditions. Their actions speak volumes about our industry’s resilience and optimism for the future.

I thoroughly enjoyed my left-seat time in the Eclipse.

I thoroughly enjoyed my left-seat time in the Eclipse.

GA Serves America spokesman Harrison Ford on Capitol Hill

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
Harrison Ford talks about General Aviation during a discussion on Capitol Hill.

Harrison Ford talks about General Aviation during a discussion on Capitol Hill.

With membership in the General Aviation caucuses in the House and Senate growing to record numbers, Harrison Ford came to a General Aviation gathering on Capitol Hill where he had the opportunity to talk about what general aviation means to him and to America.

GA Serves America spokesman Harrison Ford was in Washington this week.

GA Serves America spokesman Harrison Ford was in Washington this week.

Honestly, we could have no more passionate or articulate spokesman than Harrison Ford. Even with Congress debating a significant number of issues, we had a standing-room-only crowd as members of Congress and congressional staff listened to a discussion with Ford.

Our AOPA Live team was in the room. Watch the video online.

Scottsdale crowd gets engaged

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

I am headed to Texas today for some meetings on my way back to the Washington area after a great couple of days in the Southwest. Last night I was in Scottsdale, Arizona, for a wonderful town hall meeting. We brought together AOPA members and others interested in the future of general aviation at the beautiful Hangar One complex built by AOPA member Bennett Dorrance. Bennett was a terrific host and the audience was impressively well-informed about the issues that affect our freedom to fly.

The audience asked some tough, informed questions during our town hall gathering in Scottsdale.

The audience asked some tough, informed questions during our town hall gathering in Scottsdale.

We were joined by a candidate for the open Congressional seat in the area, as well as a very pro-aviation mayor from a nearby city, and a state representative. All three seemed to appreciate my General Aviation Serves America message about the true value of general aviation for all Americans. Gatherings like this, when we can bring informed pilots and elected officials together, are critically important to helping us demonstrate just how “engaged” and passionate the general aviation community is. I think the officials who were part of the gathering left with a better understanding of GA, and the pilots and AOPA members who were present played an important role in delivering that message.

 

 

I will be continuing to travel the country with the GA Serves America message throughout the year. I hope you’ll join me and be part of sharing the GA Serves America message when I’m next in your area. You can find a list of upcoming events on the President’s Page  on AOPA Online. We’ll also send you an e-mail invitation to the next gathering in your area. Login in to your member page to make sure we’ve got your current e-mail address so you don’t miss out on these great opportunities to get engaged!

Good news makes a great wakeup

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

I’m traveling in the Southwest this week. Later today, I’ll be updating AOPA members about all that’s going on in Washington and around the country at a town hall meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. And on the way home tomorrow, I’ll be stopping in Texas for some meetings.

This morning, my day got off to an early and great start with a call to turn on CNN about a Cessna story.  I flicked on the TV, a bit concerned about what I might see, only to find one of the real leaders in our general aviation community, Jack Pelton, talking about innovation and building aircraft.  It was a positive story and a tribute to what Jack and the Cessna team have done to build the foundation for a strong recovery.

Without a doubt, this news story made my day!

Getting engaged with Rep. Sam Graves

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Here at Sun n Fun I’ve had a chance to discuss what AOPA is working on in Washington in several forums, but earlier today we had a really interesting panel discussion organized by Congressman Sam Graves from Missouri.

Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri hosted a panel that included John and Martha King of King Schools, Lisa Piccione of NBAA, Pete Bunce of GAMA, and me.

Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri hosted a panel that included John and Martha King of King Schools, Lisa Piccione of NBAA, Pete Bunce of GAMA, and me.

Sam is a pilot and aircraft owner, a member of the House of Representatives, and a really strong supporter of GA. He even hosts an annual fly-in event, so he is engaged with general aviation on every level.

In addition to Sam, who hosted the panel, I was joined on stage by training and education experts John and Martha King, of King Schools; NBAA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lisa Piccione; and GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce.

We covered a lot of topics during the course of the conversation, but we kept coming back to one idea–the fact that we, as general aviation pilots, have strength in  numbers and that we can have a meaningful impact on policy and government by getting engaged.

It was great to hear Sam encourage pilots to contact their Congressional representatives about general aviation issues. As he put it, “They are regular people, just like you and me.” And of course, in his case, that’s literally true!

Sam also spent some time with me on the AOPA LIVE stage. Tune in to see what he had to say about important issues like user fees, NextGen, and security.

Airshow inspiration

Friday, April 16th, 2010

I love watching airshows. What pilot doesn’t appreciate seeing exceptionally skilled fliers push themselves and their aircraft to new heights? Sun ‘n Fun has a great airshow and, as is so often the case, the performers are as impressive as the performances.

Jacquie B performs in her Pitts Special as we watch from the AOPA Chalet at Sun 'n Fun.

Jacquie B performs in her Pitts Special as we watch from the AOPA Chalet at Sun 'n Fun.

In case you are harboring dreams of being an airshow pilot yourself, you could follow in the footsteps of Jacquie B. Flying a Pitts Special, she didn’t begin performing in airshows until she was 50 years old.

The view from the AOPA Chalet on the Sun ‘n Fun flight line is excellent and I am looking forward to a special treat later today–an evening airshow viewed from this unique vantage point.

The Aerostars perform a flawless "pierced heart" maneuver during Sun 'n Fun's evening airshow.

The Aerostars perform a flawless pierced-heart maneuver during the evening airshow.

A big thank you

Friday, April 16th, 2010
Sun ‘n Fun is as much about the people as the airplanes, and because it’s the unofficial start of the flying season, it’s always a wonderful opportunity to bring people from across the country together. This morning, Karen Gebhart, president of the AOPA Foundation, and I had the chance to get together with some special friends–donors who support the AOPA Foundation. Over breakfast at the AOPA Chalet on the Sun ‘n Fun flight line, we had the chance to thank these supporters in person and bring them up to date on what’s next for the AOPA Foundation. Without people like these, who make an extra effort to engage with general aviation by offering their financial support, we couldn’t accomplish nearly as much as we do. If you aren’t already familiar with the AOPA Foundation, take a look at the Foundation page on our website to learn more about how your contribution can help protect your freedom to fly.
AOPA Foundation President Karen Gebhart thanks donors during breakfast at Sun 'n Fun.

AOPA Foundation President Karen Gebhart thanks donors during breakfast at Sun 'n Fun.

Going LIVE!

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Whether you’re here at Sun ‘n Fun or stuck in the office and daydreaming about flying, I want to encourage you to take a minute to check out AOPA LIVE.

Throughout the show we’ll be interviewing aviation authorities and celebrities, letting you hear first hand from experts about all aspects of general aviation—from the latest tools and products to stories of daring adventure from famous pilots.

 

AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines interviews Commemorative Air Force President Steve Brown on the AOPA LIVE stage at Sun 'n Fun.

AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines interviews Commemorative Air Force President Steve Brown on the AOPA LIVE stage at Sun n Fun.

Here on site, come to the AOPA LIVE stage at the Big Yellow Tent. If you’re at home, you can see our live streaming coverage, or our archived videos, online.

We’ll be hosting new episodes of AOPA Live now through Saturday. Check it out!

Shared insights and experiences at Friedrichshafen

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

As president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations, I am excited about this morning’s IAOPA meeting here in Friedrichshafen. It’s a long standing tradition—this group has been meeting since 1965. More important, it’s an opportunity for me to sit down with representatives from 33 countries and talk about some of the issues that affect our flying and the future of general aviation.

Martin Robinson, IAOPA European Regional Senior VP and AOPA-U.K. CEO is preparing to open our meeting this morning.

Martin Robinson, IAOPA European Regional Senior VP and AOPA-U.K. CEO is preparing to open our meeting this morning.

No matter where in the world you fly, you face many of the same challenges, and meetings like this give us a chance to share insights and experiences so that we can determine the best course forward.

Today we will be talking about air traffic control modernization, keeping airports open, and working effectively with aviation authorities—all big issues regardless of where you fly.

First impressions from AERO

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

The first look at AERO Friedrichshafen is indicative of the optimism and enthusiasm of the general aviation community here. The exposition center features a remarkable design of several new, beautifully constructed hangar-like halls.

First look at Aero

First look at Aero

Even with the perfect Spring weather calling, this indoor show is very attractive.

Even better, the wonderful setting seems to be a good backdrop for doing business. The exhibitors I’ve spoken with are pleased with the opening day activity.

There’s an especially strong presence from the LSA community and the vendors are attracting good crowds. One manufacturer even told me he is pretty sure he has sold 2 aircraft in the first hours of the show.