This past week, I was given the opportunity to attend the Great Lakes International Aviation Conference held on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. As I packed up the AOPA display late on Saturday night, I took a moment to reflect on the interactions I had during the conference so that I could share them with you here.
A Michigan State Police officer and pilot came to the booth and reached out his hand saying “Thank you.” I returned the handshake and he told me how he had recently attended one of AOPA’s Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics and still hadn’t received his renewed certificate from the FAA. He went on to tell me how he checked with the local FSDO with no success, called FAA Headquarters with no success, and finally talked with a local Designated Pilot Examiner who told him to “Call AOPA.” He then went on to tell me how one of AOPA’s Pilot Information Center Specialists “tenaciously attacked the issue and found my certificate that same day. For that reason alone, I’m incredibly grateful for AOPA — even on top of the great advocacy the Association does,” he went on to say.
This sums up many of my experiences interacting with pilots and aircraft owners from across the great lakes region. Many express thanks for what AOPA has done in the past and many present issues for AOPA to tackle in the future. During this conference alone, I met with at least 10 Airport Support Network Volunteers who told me of the ongoing issues at their airport, talked with representatives from three local collegiate aviation programs, numerous manufacturer representatives and countless pilots from the area. All of these interactions help guide AOPA’s efforts both nationally and regionally.
I mention this because I think it’s very important for AOPA members to know that we are all in this together. Making general aviation stronger is a challenge we all must face together. So, if you see or talk to an AOPA regional manager or other staff member — let us know how we can better serve you. After all, we are here because of you and for you — and it is not something any of us take lightly.