President's Position

Life Associate

December 1, 1999

For many years members have asked about buying a life membership in AOPA. They cite other organizations that have offered them that option, and their desire to support the association in this manner. We have considered such a membership, but other options have been used instead. For instance, the more than 91,000 members using automatic annual renewal accomplish much the same result. By registering a credit card and asking that their membership automatically be renewed until they cancel, these members save themselves and AOPA the dollars associated with the renewal process.

In honor of our sister organization's fiftieth anniversary next year, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation (ASF) and AOPA have teamed to produce an exclusive and unique offer. We have established the ASF Life Associate Program, a way for members to assist in funding the many worthwhile safety efforts of the Air Safety Foundation and obtain an AOPA life membership. As many of you are aware, ASF receives only 10 percent of its annual support from a voluntary $1 contribution included each year in your AOPA member dues. The balance comes primarily from individual donations, with some corporate grants and government funding for specific projects. A majority of the annual support comes from members like you, so we thought, "Why not offer something of benefit to both the donor and the foundation?"

Your $2,500 Life Associate donation is placed in a special endowment fund. This allows your gift to generate $100 each and every year, in perpetuity, of ongoing income that will help to fund ASF safety programs. In addition, because the Air Safety Foundation is a recognized charitable organization, $2,000 of the donation is tax-deductible — hence, a big reason for calling this to your attention near the end of this year. An elegant lapel pin and exclusive life membership card are among the program's benefits.

Many are aware of endowment funds that require a six- or seven-figure contribution, but the $2,500 Life Associate donor creates a personal endowment that will greatly assist in producing a continuing funding stream for ASF. You can add to your personal fund at any time to enhance ASF activities.

As the Air Safety Foundation enters its second half-century, it celebrates being the largest provider of general aviation safety information in the United States. More than 250 ASF safety seminars were presented around the country this year, attended by more than 30,000 pilots. Perhaps you have benefited from one or more of these interesting evenings, and enjoyed "Weather Tactics," "Maneuvering Flight," "Never Again," or one of the new student pilot seminars.

Whether during a safety seminar or one of my Pilot Town Meetings, the ASF publications seem to evaporate by the end of the evening. These Safety Advisors are a quick and easy way to pick up valuable tips on a variety of subjects. Most recently, pilots have had access to Safety Advisors on operations at towered and nontowered airports, aircraft icing, propeller safety, GPS, and airspace. Whenever the GA accident picture begins to indicate an increase in a certain area, the Air Safety Foundation addresses the issue with simple and common-sense ways to help you be a safer and more knowledgeable pilot.

Whenever there is a general aviation mishap, it is tallied in our unique database, in conjunction with NTSB data. Annually, ASF produces the Nall Report, named in honor of Joseph T. Nall, an NTSB member who died in an airplane crash in 1989. Over the years, this report has become the universal source of data on GA accidents, covering all phases of flight for fixed-wing aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds. The weekend of the John F. Kennedy Jr. tragedy, I picked up the Nall Report before answering any questions from reporters, since it gave me factual information to present on night flying accidents and allowed me to address the other misconceptions that the media was printing or broadcasting.

Almost 7,500 flight instructors every year renew their certificates through the Air Safety Foundation's acclaimed Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics. It was ASF that petitioned the FAA several years ago to reduce the grueling three-day course to an informative two-day experience. And those of you with nonflying spouses or companions know about the foundation's Pinch-Hitter® course.

With the annual funds generated from the Life Associate endowment, we also hope to expand the research done by ASF in human factors. As black boxes populate more and more of our panel space in general aviation, work is needed on how much information and how much dial turning a single pilot, flying IFR without an autopilot, can hope to manage. It was ASF that encouraged avionics manufacturers and the FAA to look at bringing some commonality to the functions and labels on the growing number of IFR-certified GPS receivers. This is unfinished work that we can be assured will continue if the foundation has a continuing source of funding.

The idea of a lifetime membership is also an outgrowth of our Life Hat in the Ring Society. Fifteen donors at $25,000 each have funded this endowment over the past few years. By reducing the amount to $2,500 we hope to convince you and others to help us, and join the exclusive group of more than 50 Life Associate members at this writing. The timing is right for that $2,000 tax writeoff. The cause is a worthy one, and we hope that by returning to you a lifetime AOPA membership you will participate in the foundation's work. Will you join me in the Air Safety Foundation's exclusive Life Associate Program?

For more information on the Life Associate Program, visit the Web site ( or call ASF at 800/638-3101 — Ed.