Archive for 2011

Harrison Ford speaks to Senate GA Caucus

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

I spend a lot of time in Washington, D.C., but not every trip to the Hill is so enjoyable as the one I made today with actor, pilot, and GA advocate Harrison Ford. Harrison was in town to speak to the 36 members of the Senate GA Caucus. He talked about the importance of general aviation to himself and to thousands of others, and the senators listened closely. He also thanked the caucus members for their stalwart support of GA. Each of the 11 attending senators spoke highly of general aviation and the unique characteristics that make GA flying so important and valuable to the nation. 

Sen. Johanns (left) and Sen. Begich (right), co-chairs of the Senate GA Caucus, are joined by Harrison Ford for a conversation about the value of general aviation.

Wherever he goes, Harrison wins attention and support for general aviation, making him one of our most effective advocates. He has given freely of his time and talent to protect our freedom to fly through the GA Serves America campaign and in countless other ways. His generosity and dedication are without equal, and I, for one, am grateful for his support.

CAF helps rally GA

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

I am in Midland, Texas, today for a Rally GA event that’s part of the Commemorative Air Force’s annual AIRSHO. This morning brought cloudy skies after a full night of rain—something that hadn’t happened in more than a year and was a welcome relief from the drought in this part of Texas. But the clouds did nothing to dampen enthusiasm for a day filled with airplanes and excitement.

A night of rain was welcome in Midland.

CAF President Steve Brown offered a warm welcome to me and all of the show participants, including Congressman  Sam Graves of Missouri—an avid pilot and staunch friend to GA.

For me, it was a chance to meet more AOPA members and share my thoughts about the future, as well as listen to their concerns. Having people like you come out and get engaged with GA has never been more important.

User fees are back on the table and we have a hotly contested election year ahead. At times like these, elected officials—both those already in office and those hoping to win their various races—are listening carefully to voters, so this is a great time to let them know that general aviation matters to you.

We’ll be holding more Rally GA events to bring pilots together and I hope you’ll come when we’re in your area. It’s a great way to stay in touch with what’s happening and let your voice be heard.

Joining Heaven’s Landing (GE99) for a 10th Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

During the past three years, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Mike and Holly Ciochetti and learn about Heaven’s Landing. Mike’s vision along with Holly’s caring touch have created a unique and beautiful mountain estate airpark in Northeast Georgia. When I learned they were celebrating a 10th anniversary for the airpark, I decided to drop by for lunch in the AOPA Caravan.

N394GA, AOPA's Caravan touching down at Heaven's Landing

Taxing to the ramp with hangars and the club house.

Thanks to Heaven’s Landing own photographer, Jan Nash, the visit was captured in pictures unlike any I usually see. Jan sent a set of photographs and granted me the right to share her fine work. As I reviewed them I couldn’t help but think of how important it is to protect our freedom to fly! I hope you enjoy the collection.

Heaven’s Landing has unique two-story hangars available for residents. The Club House sits up on a hill with a great view of the whole airpark.

Mike and Holly show me the buffet line.

Visiting at lunch

Mike Ciochetti describes how he found this beautiful site when some of his cattle wandered onto the property….he discovered a location where he has developed homesites along with the airport. The Club House is about two years old.

View from the Club House

The hospitality was sensational…so was the Southern pulled pork and chicken!

We had a very relaxing afternoon. Following lunch I had a chance to address all of those in attendance.

The folks at this fine community not only appreciate the importance of protecting our freedom to fly, they live it every day!

After lunch and a tour, it was time to head back to Frederick. Temperature had turned cold and I wanted to return before the weather came through. As it turned out, Washington Center put me right into the icing altitude….thank goodness for TKS!

It was tough to leave….but, departing this beautiful place was also a wonderful experience as the hills surrounding Heaven’s Landing slipped beneath the Caravan.

The Caravan climbed to a comfortable 15,000 feet on the way home to stay above the weather. While climbing out over the Northeast Georgian hills, I promised myself I would return in the not too distant future.

If you want to learn more about Heaven’s Landing, you will find their site loaded with interesting information….just CLICK HERE.

Lifting off GE99

Heading home

User fees petition gains momentum

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Yesterday I told you about the great idea one of our members in Iowa had. He filed a petition asking the White House to take aviation user fees off the table. His effort is gaining momentum with almost 2,500 signatures at my last check. He’s halfway there–it takes 5,000 signatures before White House senior officials will consider the petition. I encourage you to read it and sign on. Let’s show our elected officials that general aviation matters and we’re willing to take action to protect our freedom to fly.

Do your part to get user fees off the table

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Want to get rid of user fees? This could be your chance. The White House has launched a system that lets anyone create a petition. If more than 5,000 people sign it within 30 days, that petition, we are told, will be considered by senior White House staff.

One of our members in Iowa heard about this system and jumped at the chance. He started a petition to take user fees off the table. Needless to say, I couldn’t agree more. 

Make your opinion count. Sign on to the petition started by your fellow AOPA member.  It may take 5,000 people to get noticed—but what will happen if 500,000 pilots sign on? Let’s find out!

TBMs as far as the eye can see

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Today I was in Colorado Springs for the eighth annual meeting of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association. More than 250 people, including more than 80 TBM owners, took part. The airport was a beautiful site, with more than 80 TBMs lining the ramp and Andrew Knott, executive director of TBMOPA, was a gracious host.

Talking to TBM owners at the annual TBMOPA convention.

This is a very astute and involved group of pilots, and they were deeply interested in the challenges that will continue to face general aviation through this fall’s budget debate and beyond. User fees, concerns over the future of air traffic control, and the need to grow the pilot population were top of mind. These pilots understand, as we all must, the importance of continued vigilance and innovation if we are going to protect our freedom to fly in the face of these challenges.

But there’s also a lot of enthusiasm and excitement among these owners—enthusiasm for the airplanes they love, excitement for the many ways aircraft ownership has enhanced their personal and professional lives, and, perhaps most important, hope for the future.

And perhaps that’s one of the most important things I take from every gathering of pilots I am fortunate enough to attend. Even as we struggle through the challenges that face the general aviation community, we shouldn’t forget that aviation is a joyful pursuit and we are fortunate to be a part of it.

TBMs as far as the eye can see.

South Dakota rallies GA

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

For a rural state like South Dakota, general aviation means successful farming, business growth, and access to the wider world. Today, Senator John Thune and Governor Dennis Daugaard took time out to recognize the value of general aviation in their home state—and I was pleased to be a part of this exciting Rally GA event.

From left to right: Ed Bolen, NBAA; Jim Cuhady, International Council of Air Shows; Craig Fuller, AOPA; Gov. Dennis Daugaard; Jim Peitz, Mustang Aviation; Sen. John Thune; Pete Bunce, GAMA; Rod Hightower, EAA; and Jim Coyne, NATA.

GA has played an important role in the South Dakota economy for a century—a milestone Governor Daugaard recognized earlier this year when he proclaimed June to be “General Aviation Appreciation Month” in his state. And now, more than ever, GA is an important stimulus in South Dakota.

I was lucky to have the chance to speak to South Dakota pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and voters at large at this Rally GA event. Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, served as emcee and Jim Peitz, president of Mustang Aviation, served as our gracious host. In addition to the governor and senator we were joined by Rod Hightower of EAA and Jim Coyne of NATA, Ed Bolen of NBAA and John Cuhady of the International Council of Air Shows.

Events like these are so important because they bring together elected leaders and voters to talk about what general aviation means to real people—whether they fly or not. So often, the economic impact of general aviation is invisible to those outside of the flying community. I’m betting that before today many of the people in the audience had no idea that Mustang Aviation in Pierre conducts 24,000 operations every year, or that those operations have a direct and indirect economic impact worth $58 million to the community.

Talking to pilots at today's Rally GA event.

Fortunately for the residents of South Dakota, their representatives understand just how important GA is to their state. I think Gov. Daugaard put it best today when he said, “Our economy and our safety would be compromised if not for general aviation.”

Hear, Hear!

Take a Moment and Share Your Opinion

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

I’m curious…..what do you like to read here on AOPA NOW?

If you have a couple minutes, take the quick survey and help improve what I put into AOPA NOW….just, click here: 


Incumbents, Look Out

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

As I have traveled around the country, it has been impossible to miss the concern Americans have for what is happening in Washington. 

Our friends at United Technologies work with the National Journal to measure public opinion.  Their most recent effort is reported in this morning’s National Journal electronic news bulletin with the following story….

WATCH OUT, INCUMBENTS. Americans are deeply dissatisfied with Washington and eager to elect fresh faces to congress, a United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll reveals. And that old adage about Americans hating Congress but not their own representative may no longer hold. A majority of those responding to the poll said that, even when it comes to their own member of Congress, it is “time to give a new person a chance.”

Just Back from AirVenture

Monday, August 1st, 2011

We are returning to matters at AOPA in Frederick today after a fantastic week in Oshkosh at EAA’s AirVenture.

I hope you enjoy our coverage of events on our web site….go to .

We started our AOPA Live coverage with an exclusive interview that Tom Haines conducted with Harrison Ford….to view, click: .

And, to see the other features from AirVenture, go to .

We always come back from this experience rejuvenated after spending time with so many members and other aviation enthusiasts!

Now, we are getting ready for the AOPA Aviation Summit in Hartford which begins on September 22….hope you will consider joining us.