Hope and a New Beginning

January 20, 2009 by Craig Fuller

Throughout the day here at AOPA, we gave our people the opportunity to take some time to witness the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Frankly, there has been no other moment during my two plus decades in Washington where so many people filled our nation’s capital for such an historic event.  The transfer of power in a peaceful and orderly process remains a remarkable moment for our nation.

For me, this was also nostalgic.  Twenty-eight years ago, I had the honor of entering the White House grounds just after noon on January 20, 1981.  Then, as a new president took the oath of office and participated in a luncheon and a parade, those of us with offices in the West Wing moved in and went to work.  President Reagan entered the Oval Office and immediately signed presidential executive orders a few hours later.

In 1989, I stood on the grounds in front of the Capitol and participated in another presidential inaugural…this time, for President George H.W. Bush.  And, as he took on the burdens of being president, I ceased being a chief of staff to the vice president and returned to being private citizen after eight years.

I hope wherever you found yourself today, you took a few moments to celebrate this transfer of power and the historic significance of this day.

  • Dexter Stell

    God help us. I can tell the kool aid is flowing at headquarters.

  • John

    Yeah, celebrate like a lamb being led to a slaughterhouse.
    Hey Phil, can you get this guy an oxygen mask, quick?

  • Dwayne

    Phil, you’ve been duped… and unfortunately, over half the American people are too stupid to be free!!

  • Don

    Its hard to comprehend just how such a fake and an imposter could have so overwhelmingly swept the world off their feet. I can only hope that an achievement of even a small percent of the promises made will be attained. I hold the republican party to blame for not producing a candidate that made sense. Nearly every segment of our infrastructure is listing heavily. The strategic planners in our industries, government, and educational system over the last few years did a supurb job of positioning our country in this mess. Why do we think many of those same people are capable of now fixing these issues. America, a republic (which means for the people) as delineated by our constitution, and not a democracy as most seem to believe, needs to get back to basics, identify and install real leaders, and once again ask God for help.

  • Alfred Jones

    Hey, everyone, lighten up. It was an historic occasion. I didn’t vote for the guy but I’m proud as an American that he was elected. Yeah, he bashed Bush in his inaugural but he was so smooth about it.

    Now we need to try to work with his Administration to end our perpetual nightmare: the TSA thinks that general aviation is the biggest terrorist threat in the world.

  • Tim Ballard

    The first four of the five replies to new AOPA president Craig Fuller’s posting were narrow minded, cynical, and needlessly negative. Mr. Fuller’s comments did not bash the outgoing president nor idolize the incoming one; he merely paid tribute to the peaceful transfer of power in our great democracy. Indeed, lighten up! let’s focus our energies on getting the country – and GA – back on track.

  • Rick Freeman

    Now that a little time has passed, and the stimulus bill has cleared the Senate, I wonder if it is sinking in what this means to folks involved with aviation. One can analyze until the cows come home and drill down into the details, or one can take the big picture, philisophical approach and make some conclusions that way.

    The drill-down method would say that a federal goverment that needs to borrow $800b will cause interest rates to rise because there will be “too many” borrowers chasing to few available dollars to lend. Rates to finance airplanes, finance a new engine, whatever aviation-related activity you can think of will go up. More than anything, businesses rely on economic stability to underpin their employment, product, and capital investment planning. High interest rates can be inflationary and eventually lead to stagnation. What aviation company will plan a product when they either can’t predict the cost due to inflation, or can’t assess the market for it due to stagnation.

    The philospher would bypass all that and just say that any government willing to tell you what light bulb you must use, where you can smoke, which doctor to see, and that you’re too old for that kidney, won’t hesitate to restrict or remove your right to own and fly an airplane.

    Folks, you must realize that the drive to make society fair, equal, and perfect is as destructive a force as nuclear weapons. People are neither perfect nor equal in their intellect or ability, and any system that tries to impose perfection by force on a society will surely ignore its real criminals as it criminalizes its honest citizens. It will take all the texture and color out of our society and a grey sameness of mediocrity will dominate. Flying, building, and restoring will be unaffordable or just “forbidden” by fees and rules.

    The stimulus package about to be inflicted upon us is a disaster. Borrowing as far as the eye can see to expand government in an unprecedented amount. This is not a stimulus package at all, rather it is a political agenda. It is being passed by taking advantage of our financial situation to convince people urgent action is needed….quickly….don’t take time to think about it. If you take time to think, it will be a catastrophe. The problem is most of the money being spent isn’t going to arrive in time to stimulate anything. Even if you believe the money will help, it won’t arrive soon enough. It’s kind of like the argument folks use not to drill in Alaska….it won’t come online for 10 years, so lets not bother at all. OK, fine. Apply that logic to the stimulus please.

    I hope that Craig Fuller will be uncompromising in opposing the myriad restrictions to general aviation that I am sure are coming. After all, some folks really do think its just not fair that everyone can’t be a pilot.

  • Nickolaus E. Leggett

    I would like to see AOPA put a large effort into stopping the current LASP proposed rules from the TSA. As the proposal currently stands, it violates several basic constitutional principles. As an alternative, we should set up a committee with the TSA to develop a practical and constitutional response on any aviation security items. Americans have had the freedom of travel for centuries. Let us keep that freedom.

  • John

    After watching the government attempt to clamp down on GA for the past 35 years, I am convinced there will be no stopping this government in its relentless punishment of General Aviation. Here’s some of what we have to look forward to if the past is any predictor:

    Start with fully implementing LASP for all segments of aviation. Then impose a $3000 per year “registration fee” to keep your airworthiness certificate and N-number. Require expensive airline-style landing fees for touching down at any airport that receives even one cent of federal money. Publicly castigate business users for using the utility of GA, then paint “those amateur Cessna pilots” as terrorists in waiting. Require expensive annual full-motion simulator training for all pilots from LSAs to J3s to B747s. Do away with VFR, and force all flights to be fully flight-planned and controlled from wheels up to touchdown. Require in advance security permits to fly from point A to point B. Require “luxury taxes” on pilots and aircraft owners to compensate for the inability of other segments of the population to participate in aviation. And the list goes on…

    All this has been proposed or talked about in the past, but most of it was considered to only be a wish-list of those (mostly on the left) that wanted to severly restrict or eliminate General Aviation. The key difference today is that this current group of closet Socialists in charge has the will and has the means to finally “punish” once and for all those supposed fat-cats that fly aircraft. Anyone that thinks we should “lighten up” and go back to sleep is ignoring the tsunami that is about to overtake the industry. I sincerely hope Mr. Fuller and the AOPA members as a whole can stand up to this onslaught, or we might as well shut down and say goodbye to flying.

  • John Morgan

    So, here’s a little message to Craig Fuller. As a Private Pilot with just over 1200 hrs and 8 year member of AOPA…I quit. I do not see you being a positive force for GA. You’ll only bring contention and eventually the chasm will usher in the user fees. I only see you as successful at leading the AOPA as Bu$hCo was at leading the country.

    What’s the possibility your here to destroy the organization since it is the single most effective deterrent to the privatization of General Aviation. Let’s face it, privatization is what Republicans do. So, ‘fess up Craig, who are you really working for?

  • Mac

    Only slightly more than half of eligible voters voted for this. Only 61.7% of eligible voters voted. Less than a 1/3 voted for Obama and over a third basically voted “no confidence” in any of the candidates. I’d hardly say its true to claim that this is the path the majority of Americans have chosen…

    (Source: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/2008_voter_turnout_same_as_2004_/ )