Smith to lead AOPA Center to Advance the Pilot Community

AOPA has named Adam Smith as senior vice president of its forthcoming Center to Advance the Pilot Community. The center was created to stop the slow, steady decline in the number of certificated pilots in the United States and seek ways to stimulate growth.

Smith comes from the Experimental Aircraft Association, where he served as vice president of membership for five years and oversaw the EAA AirVenture airshow. He also served as vice president of outreach for the EAA Aviation Foundation for four years and as director of the EAA AirVenture Museum for two years. He is a private pilot working on his instrument rating.

“Adam’s experience and leadership qualities make him the ideal person to guide the center as it brings together a whole range of programs designed to grow and support the pilot population,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller.

AOPA and the AOPA Foundation are showing their commitment to rebuilding the pilot population by creating this entirely new division to be staffed with experts on research, building communities, and continuous learning to help guide the center’s work. By discovering what works, sharing that information widely, and using it to improve every aspect of the aviation experience, the center will change the future of general aviation.

Some of the work that will come under the center’s purview has already begun, with a focus on helping student pilots complete their training through the Flight Training Student Retention Initiative. The initiative also recognizes successful training programs with the Flight Training Excellence Awards and supports students with customized information through the My Flight Training website. AOPA will also make its new Flight Training Field Guides available this fall to help schools, instructors, and students create the kind of collaborative training environment that engenders success. And AOPA has begun research into successful pilot communities to help aviation enthusiasts nationwide create environments that get pilots flying and keep them flying.

“What we have learned so far gives us hope for the future and has been the impetus behind the creation of the center,” said Fuller. “But there is much more to do. We see a future that includes a more robust pilot community in which more people earn pilot certificates, pilots are more active, and the flying lifetime of pilots is extended.”