Let’s get together

January 6, 2014 by Mark Baker

I love to spend my Saturdays at the airport, hanging out with pilots and airplanes. I’m hoping you’ll join me at least once this year as we inaugurate a series of Saturday AOPA Fly-Ins to be held all across the country.

These gatherings were inspired by you—AOPA members. Many of you told us that you wanted ways to connect with one another and with your association, and we wanted to create a fun, easy way for you to do that.

Each fly-in will start with a pancake breakfast and pilot town hall. I’ll bring you up to speed on the big issues that affect our flying and some of AOPA’s most important initiatives. Then I’ll take lots of your questions so we can have a meaningful discussion about the issues that matter the most to you and the way you fly.

Throughout the day, we’ll have flying activities, educational seminars, exhibits, and aircraft on display. We’ll also have a learn-to-fly area for the aspiring pilots you bring along with you.

Admission is free for everyone, and lunch is free for AOPA members.

Every event will be special, but there’s one in particular that I’m looking forward to—the AOPA Homecoming set for October 4 at our Frederick headquarters. It’s going to be a celebration not only of all things GA, but also of AOPA’s 75th anniversary.

I can’t tell you how proud I am to lead an organization with such a long and impressive history of protecting the freedom to fly, and I can’t wait to share some of that history with you—the members who make AOPA what it is. We want you to come home to your association headquarters and get real insight into what it means to share in the long tradition of AOPA membership.

I have always been lucky to fly at airports where there’s a strong sense of community. More than anything, I want to share that experience with all of you. So I hope you’ll join me and other members of the AOPA team for at the Homecoming or any of our Saturday Fly-Ins for a day of fun, flying, and camaraderie.

Here’s the schedule:

  • Texas: San Marcos Municipal Airport (HYI), April 26
  • Indiana: Indianapolis Regional Airport (MQJ), May 31
  • Massachusetts: Plymouth Airport (PYM), July 12
  • Washington: Spokane Felts Field (SFF), August 16
  • California: Chino Airport (CNO), September 20
  • Maryland: Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), October 4
  • Georgia: Malcolm McKinnon Airport (SSI), November 8

Hope to see you there!

  • James Roth

    The EAA has chapters. Why not the AOPA? It shouldn’t take a “special event” organized by AOPA management for local members to connect with one another. AOPA chapters are long overdue. AOPA has about 385,000 members. EAA has less than half that number at only about 186,000. (According to Wikipedia.) Furthermore, the AOPA is 75 years old; the EAA is 61 years old. The AOPA will not allow members to use the AOPA logo to promote the formation of chapters (not to be confused with flying clubs ONLY), unless headquarters has changed its position lately. Word is that the politics between management of the two groups prevents the AOPA from having chapters. If that’s the case, it’s an injustice against AOPA members and part of GA’s problem, not the solution.

    The AOPA lost 29,309 members from 2010 to 2012, a 7% decline. At $45 each, annual dues, that’s a drop in revenue of $1,318,905 per year. (And that doesn’t even include what those members may have contributed to the foundation.)

    If the AOPA would only change its policy by allowing members to use the AOPA logo to form chapters so they can have an opportunity to connect with other members at regular meetings, then the AOPA could begin to grow again from the bottom up. Quit stalling on this issue AOPA, and quit allowing the EAA to be a political roadblock to AOPA’s future growth. You are shooting yourself in the foot to the tune of $1,318,905-plus annually, retarding the growth of general aviation, and holding your members back from collectively making meaningful contributions toward fixing the GA mess.

  • James Roth

    P.S. I find the following AOPA news item below from last summer ironic. Senior AOPA VP Adam Smith said, “Overall, the IMC Chapters feel like something the AOPA should support” Really??? While the AOPA not ONLY isn’t moving toward forming local AOPA chapters, management also will NOT assist or let alone ENDORSE efforts by members to organize local AOPA chapters formed by local AOPA members.Where is the logic in the AOPA’s position and unreasonable and overbearing stance AGAINST the formation of local AOPA chapters? It makes no sense whatsoever. It is contrary to the challenge of GROWING general aviation.

    To add it all up, if you are just a regular old, or young, male or female, VFR Cessna driver, or Piper pilot, or LSA pilot, or student pilot, or an AOPA teenage youth member, just a GA pilot, non-instrument-rated, not interested in joining the EAA with its emphasis on building airplanes, and you consider the AOPA YOUR GA organization – guess what? Headquarters does not even want AOPA members to post a notice on their local GA airport cork board announcing a meeting for all local AOPA members to discuss forming a LOCAL AOPA chapter.

    The gist of AOPA response to this topic in the past has been… “Welllll, we have discussed and considered having AOPA chapters, but we have other priorities at the moment. We are mainly a lobbying organization for our members. We MAY revisit the issue sometime in the future, but everything we do takes time due to sooo many issues to work on. We can’t turn on a dime.”

    We can’t turn on a dime? That excuse has floated down from AOPA top management on this topic for way too long, especially when you expect the FAA to quit dragging their feet on the medical issue.

    The fact that the AOPA is EMBRACING, ENDORSING, and SPONSORING the concept of local chapters for IFR pilots, while resisting the formation of chapters for the rest of us as AOPA members,” is frankly, hypocritical and a slap in the face to non-instrument-rated VFR pilots.

    AOPA members need a place to “hang their collective hats,” LOCALLY, on a REGULAR basis. The AOPA needs to lead, follow, or get out of the way.

    The FAA isn’t the only organization impeding the growth of general aviation by dragging their feet.

    (Any rebuttal from Adam Smith, senior vice president of the AOPA’s Center to Advance the Pilot Community, would be appreciated.)

    ~ JMR


    August 29, 2013 By Benét J. Wilson

    The AOPA Headquarters Chapter has become the 72nd of the IMC Club, created to promote instrument flying, proficiency, and safety. The AOPA Chapter is organized by the IMC Club International, Inc. and is sponsored by AOPA.

    AOPA met with the leadership of IMC Club earlier in the year and questioned why there was no chapter, said Adam Smith, senior vice president of the AOPA’s Center to Advance the Pilot Community and the AOPA/IMC chapter leader. “I was impressed by the progress they have made in a short period of time, and especially by their focus on community. Wherever we find strong communities in aviation, we also tend to find pilots that are more active and engaged,” he said. “And with IMC Clubs, there are important safety and proficiency element too. So overall, it feels like something that AOPA should support.”