About 30 days ago, an online group called AVweb posted a gross miscalculation, saying that executives at AOPA had received pay increases of 14 percent. That report was flat out wrong, and we said so. But the post stayed up for about three days before the publisher agreed to take it down, and it caused no small amount of angst.
The truth is that the top 10 people at AOPA saw salary increases of less than 3 percent from 2008 to 2009 and less than 2 percent from 2009 to 2010.
Since that initial post, we’ve responded in detail and in writing to numerous questions and spent two hours on the phone with the group’s publisher, editor, and chief operating officer.
Now, 30 days later, they have made no correction and no public acknowledgement of their error. In fact, the very individual who miscalculated the compensation figures now wonders aloud why AOPA spends so much on advocacy.
We anticipate more postings, and we will answer them with the facts.
In the meantime, let me share just a few highlights from the exhaustive information we provided:
• Total expenditures for AOPA in 2010 are projected to be lower than they were in 2008 and 2009.
• Total salaries paid to all AOPA employees will be about 2 percent less in 2010 than they were in 2009, due to a small reduction in the number of employees.
• From 2008 to 2010, AOPA reduced the number of employees by six.
• When asked why AOPA spent so much money on advocacy during an economic downturn, we explained that our “cycle of activity” is different from many other “business cycles.” With a new Administration coming to Washington in 2009 and the threat of a $9.5 billion user fee on the table, we would not have served our members by pulling back and cutting spending.
• When asked why AOPA uses turbine aircraft, we explained that the Association has made use of turbine airplanes for 30 years because it is an efficient way to move people and equipment around the country. We are, after all, a general aviation association.
I am very proud of what AOPA has accomplished in the past and the work we are continuing to do today. We are a large and strong organization dedicated to protecting our freedom to fly. And we continue to try new approaches and experiment with new offerings to our members.
We always recognize our members’ right to know what we do and why. We can only hope that those who want to post information about AOPA come to care as much about being accurate as they do about being provocative.