Archive for July, 2010

FAA administrator on safety, avgas, and the value of GA

Thursday, July 29th, 2010
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt talked about the role and importance of general aviation during a "Meet the Administrator" session at AirVenture.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt talked about the role and importance of general aviation during a talk at EAA AirVenture.

One of the best things about coming to events like EAA AirVenture and AOPA’s Aviation Summit is the opportunity for the general aviation community to hear directly from top-level officials, like FAA Administrator Randy Babbit. Just as important, it’s a chance for those officials to hear from GA pilots and owners.

I had the chance to speak with Administrator Babbitt yesterday during a lunch meeting, and today we took part in a town hall style meeting featuring the FAA administrator along with many leading members of his management team. Even Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood dropped by to deliver the message that he considers general aviation “absolutely essential.”

Over the course of the meeting, Administrator Babbitt talked about many of the issues that are in the forefront for AOPA and the general aviation community at large and thanked the AOPA Air Safety Foundation for its work on improving safety. In addition to safety, he talked about the value of general aviation, NextGen, and the transition away from leaded avgas.

Administrator Babbitt expressed his committment to working with the aviation community to find a solution for replacing leaded fuel–a solution that, in his words, “works for all piston aircraft…old, new, and even those not yet built.”

Equally heartening was his assertion that user fees are not on the horizon, despite the continuing uncertainty over the future of FAA funding.

It’s good to know that top officials are acutely aware of our concerns and, as always, I look forward to working closely with them to ensure that general aviation’s needs remain top-of-mind as we tackle these issues and pursue new opportunities.

Olympic inspiration

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Over the past week or so I’ve been hearing from members who have been inspired by the athletes of the Special Olympics and wanted to know more about the Citation Airlift that brought hundreds of athletes from around the nation to the games in Nebraska. I was honored to take part and wanted to share with you some images from this wonderful trip.

We picked up our Baltimore area Special Olympic athletes early last Saturday morning at BWI….here we are wishing them well as we drop them off for a week of competition in Lincoln, Nebraska.





One week later we were back in Lincoln to pick up our athletes. Cessna did a tremendous job organizing the Special Olympics Airlift.  Thanks to well over 100 Citation aircraft, young athletes for around the country were able to participate. The FAA also did an outstanding job managing the flow of aircraft in and out of Lincoln.  The mobile operations center seen here on the right came in from Kansas City.




Speaking of the FAA, Hank Krakowski, chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, flew the FAA Citation to take in the operations at Lincoln.






AOPA’s CJ3, N4GA, flew our Special Olympics Airlift mission as Dove 14.






Our athletes were excited to climb back on the aircraft with their medals.  We enjoyed a smooth flight back to Baltimore where family and friends were waiting.





A large welcome sign was rolled out for our traveling party…notice Hannah’s medals!
The CJ3 reverted back to N4GA and made the short hop back to our home base in Frederick.

Again thanks to Cessna for superb organization.  It was a privilege for all of us at AOPA to participate is such a meaningful and memorable event.

Finally, congratulations to all the Special Olympians…each and everyone is a true winner!


Taking flight with the Special Olympics

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Today, I had one of my most memorable flights as AOPA participated in the Special Olympics Airlift organized by Cessna.

We made an early start this morning, picking up four athletes and two coaches at Baltimore International Airport. All our fine athletes are from the Baltimore area, and today’s trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, was their first flight on a private aircraft. Their enthusiasm for the journey and the upcoming competition was contagious.

AOPA’s Citation, using the call sign Dove 14 for this special trip, is one of 160 participating in the airlift. Together we will bring more than 800 athletes to Nebraska for the games. This is the sixth Citation Airlift for the Special Olympics, and AOPA’s first time to participate. I have to say, I am honored to take part. By working together we are helping athletes from all over the country fulfill their dreams. And it’s something many would be unable to do without our help. It’s a mission that GA is uniquely suited to accomplish and just one more example of general aviation serving the larger community.


Good luck to our Baltimore-based athletes and all this year’s competitors! I look forward to seeing their smiling faces and hearing about their experiences when we pick them up for the return trip next Saturday.

If you’d like to share the excitement of our journey, be sure to take a look at the video on AOPA Online.

Three decades of service

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

I am often lucky to spend time with luminaries from the general aviation community, but there are only a handful of individuals who have dedicated their lives and careers to making GA, and GA pilots, better. This week I had the privilege of spending time with two of those people, John and Martha King, founders of King Schools.

I visited their Southern California headquarters and saw their operation in action. Needless to say it was impressive, as is their record of service to the GA community. For more than 30 years this dynamic husband-and-wife team has focused on helping general aviation pilots fly successfully through their teaching. They started with simple, in-person classes, but now offer dozens of courses that take advantage of the latest technologies to make learning easier, more enjoyable, and more convenient.

King Schools founders Martha and John King have dedicated the past 30-plus years to making general aviation pilots successful.

King Schools founders Martha and John King have dedicated the past 30-plus years to making general aviation pilots successful.

Even as their teaching and distribution methods have evolved to keep up with the changing needs of pilots, they’ve remained true to their ideals and continue to find ways to make even the most complex aviation concepts simple.

I, for one, am grateful for all they do help pilots, through their company and through their personal efforts. In fact, I’d say we all owe something to the Kings, who’ve devoted their lives to making general aviation stronger.

The world in a day

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

This time of year, having access to an airplane is a great opportunity to experience more than the joys of flying—it’s a chance to take in the festivals and events going on all over the country. Sometimes, you can travel the world in just one day.

That’s what I’m doing this morning at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.

Santa Fe is always one of my favorite stops when heading west. And with a round of meetings in California later this week, I decided to make a stop and spend a day at the amazing folk art market. My wife, Karen, arrived in Santa Fe a few days before me to escort the delegation from Oman around the city.

Dancers from Oman greet market visitors.

Dancers from Oman greet market visitors.

This is a vibrant and colorful event with participants from developing countries around the globe. Some artists literally sell out and take home enough money to support a small village for most of the year. To give you an idea of how big it is, last year 123 artists from 46 countries and six continents participated and more than 23,000 people attended.

My visit began early this morning, when I watched as Oman’s ambassador to the United States joined a group of dancers from her home country in welcoming participants to the market.

If by chance you are within range of Santa Fe this weekend, the weather is perfect for a visit today or tomorrow. And, a private plane helps get your fine purchases home in one piece.

An artist from Kenya displays his work for an enthusiastic audience.

An artist from Kenya at work.

You can find out more about the International Folk Market at their website.