“….we misinterpreted some of the data on its IRS filings.”

December 13, 2010 by Craig Fuller

The statement above in today’s AVweb Insider by Paul Bertorelli at AVweb is appreciated.

Also, today’s “Inside Look at AOPA” follows a long and useful tradition of reporting after conducting an extensive interview covering important matters.  Seems a lot more useful than email exchanges.


  • Terra

    Keep up the good work Craig! Some of us really do see how hard you work, how many hours you put in over and above. While most staff have their weekends off, you are usually flying off to a small airport for breakfast with members, listening to their concerns, or flying all over the country to and from meetings and conferences; while most staff are home with their families each night or able to be home to see their children in sports and school pageants, having supper with loved ones, or simply kicked back in front of the tube, you are away from yours and living out of a suitcase. You’ve done great philanthropic things with your free time, like the Special Olympics airlift, or like this past weekend- giving up your entire Saturday to help the people of Tangier Island. While you are out advocating for the rights of pilots…the weekend warriors, I doubt you have much time to just fly your own beloved aircraft for relaxed pleasure like the rest of us who enjoy this freedom do.

    While many are focused on salaries, I don’t think that they factor in how you help AOPA save money. Most CEO’s with schedules as busy as yours use corporate jets and a crew of pilots to get them around quickly and efficiently. According to industry standards, the salary for a highly proficient corporate pilot based in the East for just ONE aircraft should be over $80k, plus benefits. AOPA routinely packs-in TWO aircraft with staff, materials for events, and charitable flying…and as we all know YOU are one of the crew pilots, which cut back the need to hire more staff. Not only does this save the association in salary, but it greatly reduces airline, hotel, and ground fees, while still supporting general aviation and the thousands of smaller airports instead of the major airlines…isn’t that what you’re supposed to be doing?

    It’s amazing how the press works- Paul, the author of the Avweb article, isn’t questioned about his qualifications in the financial field that makes him an expert on how anybody, let alone AOPA, should invest their money. Is he an expert in finance? Has he ever run or been involved in an AOPA type association so that we can see how he can intelligently make these allegations? Where’s HIS transparency? I think its shameful how his publication decided to incite the GA community in an effort to gain attention to their otherwise obscure column- just so they can sell more ad space. You’d think that when the world heard it was coming to an end years ago on the radio from Orson Wells, that just because someone wants attention, doesn’t mean they deserve it.

    “…we misinterpreted some of the data on its IRS filings.”–Ahh…so convenient to run in and attack without getting facts straight first just to get people’s attention. As far as I’m concerned, Avweb has sunk to the depths of nothing more than gossip rags to grab money…and they don’t DO anything for members. As far as their private, money-making organization goes, I for one don’t appreciate being tricked into clicking on something that looks like an article to read, only to find that my computer has now been tagged with cookies for their ads, and I certainly don’t appreciate them selling my email address either.

    So, all that happens to Paul and the gang at Avweb is that now they’ve gotten more attention, now they’ve made more money selling ad space, and now they’ve cost the members valuable time by taking Craig Fuller and the staff away from their REAL work of helping us poor pilot schmucks to defend the pointless attacks that were made. Now where is responsibility of the media in that? They won’t even publish this same comment from me on their site…surprise! Perhaps when they actually lose their revenue they’ll reassess how they can balance serving us pilots in a positive way while still earning a decent living?

    How about supporting the writers who REALLY have a pilot’s best interest at heart…the ones like us who are pilots too, personally vested in whatever outcome AOPA is working toward? How can one not see, identify and appreciate the passion and intelligence that someone like Dave Hirschman puts into every article he writes in an AOPA magazine? I would imagine that those guys spend a considerable amount of time away from their families as well, living out of suitcases. How about the Flight Training magazine or the Air Safety Foundation? There is no way I would have the opportunity to get around to learn as much useful information in my busy schedule or limited resources, or enjoy as many aviation stories from fellow pilots, or learn as much about flying and safety as I get from AOPA.

    While we may be disgruntled or disgusted with one area of our government or another, we should be grateful that as American aviators, and through AOPA, we have built from the ground up, this coalition of forces to defend our right to fly…why would any sensible pilot allow anyone to attempt to tear that down for them? We need to strengthen it and rally around those who have the ability, the intelligence, the means and the fortitude with which to get the job done and keep us safe.

    If members REALLY want to know what’s going on or are concerned with how their measly yearly dues (gee, $3.75 per month) are being spent or how it affects THEIR rights as a pilot…which is why they are members…they should look at the website and read their magazine. How many cups of coffee do you think they would have to buy before reading just the AOPA magazine from cover to cover…I guarantee they’d spend more on the coffee than they spent on the magazine itself…not to mention the entire entourage of complimentary staff and services that are just a phone call away, travel discounts, and government advocates that fight for them daily to boot. There is no way I could afford to pay an attorney every time I have a legal question about flying or my medical, there is no way I could afford to pay a doctor each time I need to find out if a particular pill is okay to take and fly because I’ve got the sniffles (not that they’d know), and there is no other company that I can find that will provide life insurance that covers me when I’m flying. I make my dues back each year and then some just by getting AOPA discounts at FBO’s for fuel, car rentals, and training.

    Oh, and while I’m on my soapbox…for those complaining that the dues finally went up $6 after 20 years…REALLY??? No, really…I mean….REALLLLY?? You’re willing to make Starbucks richer by buying a latte and scone, but you’re complaining about the cost of protecting your ability to fly? Starbucks is flying a few G550, what do you have?

    Oh…and MY personal opinion doesn’t need to qualify as coming from a financial expert or CEO of any business…just that of a simple pilot who is getting sick and tired of the press trying to divide us to make a dime! I love the freedom to fly, enjoy my freedom to avoid being personally assaulted by the TSA and their body scanners by flying there myself, and know that even if I’m not some rich lobbyist, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I don’t have to worry about paying user fees to enjoy what my taxes are already supposed to be paying for. So, forgive me for my long, but impassioned post and the fact that I WILL fight for the AOPA with gusto!

    Now, excuse me while I take care of my next order of business…canceling my subscription to the Avweb rag…I invite every self-respecting pilot to do the same!! Thank you for listening…and thank you to AOPA and all the people there that make it happen!!

  • Paul Burgette

    Am I the only person bothered by Mr. Fuller’s seemingly condescending and haughty attitude?

    Mr. Bertorelli updates his opinion and reporting when additional information becomes available to him. Mr. Fuller acknowledges that an interview was originally requested. Apparently Mr. Fuller and AOPA couldn’t be bothered to respond to that request. Yet Mr. Fuller seems to believe that Mr. Bertorelli was under some obligation to seek AOPA / Fuller approval before going public. To me it sounds as if Mr. Fuller expects courtesies that he himself is unwilling to extend to others.

    In many parts of this country it is still considered polite to respond when addressed. One might draw the conclusion that this little tempest could have been avoided if Mr. Fuller had only responded to the original interview request. (“True, the email did indicate that a conversation with me was desired.” ~ Anatomy of a Story
    December 11, 2010 by Craig Fuller ) Perhaps Mr. Fuller’s values are more Washington and less than those of his membership?

    I have been a member of AOPA for over forty years. This incident will not cause me to quit the AOPA; the organization is useful and provides what I think is imperfect but acceptable value. But, it will cause me to rethink future extra support.

  • Bryan Adams

    Mr. Fuller-

    Revealing where important information is lacking about the costs of and benefits of any organization is a vital function.

    Transparency adds to the accountability of an organization and it makes good sense to be in favor of cost-effective business practices and compensation.

    The “online group called AVweb ” happens to be many aviators premiere source of aviation news. Your indignant comments towards AvWeb and Paul Bertorelli on this blog make me hesitate to support AOPA.

    After reading about your salary it now makes sense why you accost me with personally signed letters asking for donations.

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