August 1, 2002
By AOPA Communications staff
A massive AOPA-led media campaign to correct public misconceptions about general aviation flying is set to launch in August.
The unprecedented effort to tell the truth about GA flying centers on a new permanent Web site promoting GA, complemented by advertisements in major newspapers and intensive public relations outreach to political leaders, government officials, and the public. The campaign is being funded by the GA Restoration Fund, created with donations from AOPA members after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
"It's time to replace the public's fear and ignorance of GA with facts," said AOPA President Phil Boyer, who initiated the campaign. "The horrible and unjustified beating of GA in the wake of the terrorist attacks, largely because of public ignorance, was the rudest kind of wake-up call."
Boyer pointed out that although terrorists used large commercial jet airliners as weapons, airlines were flying again within two days of the attacks, while GA — which had nothing to do with the attacks — was grounded for weeks. And as the GA industry struggled painfully to its feet in the months following, unreasoning and vitriolic attacks from both political leaders and the media helped continue unnecessary restrictions and poisoned public perception of small-aircraft flying.
The new Web site, General Aviation: It's Working for America, showcases the role GA plays in the American economy, emphasizing the advantages of GA for ordinary citizens. "It is clean, bright, graphically exciting, and to the point," said Boyer. "It provides straight answers to two very basic questions: What is general aviation, and why should the public care about it?"
The General Aviation: It's Working for America Web site ( www.GAservingamerica.org) also offers special all-in-one, optimized information packages with highly concentrated content, fast-reading copy, and targeted artwork. Downloadable PDF files will help visitors disseminate the information to their constituents or readers.
Easy-to-access headings include "GA: Serving You and Your Community"; "Advantages of GA"; "The Future of GA"; "Is It Safe?"; "GA and the World"; and "How's It All Work?" A special library section highlights GA facts and figures, with separate media access and government access sections. "As we've been working on this campaign, we've seen the continuing damage done to GA by public ignorance and fear," Boyer continued. "There was the turmoil caused by the Tampa suicide of the 15-year-old boy, last-minute restrictions placed on airspace and airports, and unprecedented state legislative efforts to impose costly and ineffective security measures on GA pilots, airports, and aircraft.
"Your association has been tremendously successful in representing pilots' needs during these challenging times. With this new GA Restoration campaign, we're able to more effectively tell people about the positive side of general aviation."
Expenses incurred to set up the GA Restoration Fund were paid entirely by AOPA, allowing all contributions to be used directly for the advertising and PR campaign. Donations ranged from $5 to $5,000, totaling more than half a million dollars.
Pilots wishing to contribute to the outreach effort may do so online
Ruth C. Scheer, executive director of the Cabot Family Charitable Trust, presents the Aero Club of New England "Cabot Award" to AOPA President Phil Boyer for his "superlative efforts and success in restoring general aviation privileges following September 11." Boyer told the group that much remains to be done, and pointed to the General Aviation Restoration Fund as key to preserving GA.
A new report commissioned by AOPA has concluded that general aviation aircraft do not pose a serious threat to the nation's nuclear power plants. The report by internationally recognized nuclear safety and security expert Robert M. Jefferson said that the crash of a GA aircraft would not cause a dangerous release of radiation.
"The Jefferson report makes it clear that general aviation aircraft are not effective weapons," said AOPA President Phil Boyer, "and small aircraft aren't a significant threat to the safety of the public when it comes to nuclear power plants."
Jefferson has more than 45 years' experience in the nuclear field. His experience encompasses full-scale testing of systems subjected to explosive attacks, full-scale testing of spent fuel shipping casks, and the development of calculation techniques for assessing the public impact of nuclear fuel cycle activities.
A copy of "Nuclear Security: General Aviation is Not a Threat" is available online ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2002/02-2-159_report.pdf).
Pilots now have a louder voice in the FAA's airworthiness directive (AD) decision-making process, increasing chances for less costly, less intrusive fixes for known aircraft problems.
The FAA told AOPA in May it would begin including engine and propeller issues in its Airworthiness Concern Process (ACP), a cooperative effort allowing industry and user input before, or even in lieu of, a proposal for a final AD. The ACP has been in place for airframe issues for nearly two years, and includes input from AOPA, aircraft type clubs, and the aviation industry as a whole.
"This agreement will result in much greater participation on behalf of AOPA members," said Lance Nuckolls, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy. "That extra input will help ensure we can continue to fly safe aircraft without unnecessarily costly or unnecessary ADs."
AOPA Online serves as the central hub for distribution of airworthiness concern sheets to aircraft type clubs and submittal of type-club comments to the FAA. More information on the ACP is available online ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/regulatory/regairworthiness.html).
When AOPA Expo 2002 gets under way in late October in Palm Springs, California, members of the GA community will get a chance to show the country the value of this largest segment of U.S. aviation.
In the year since the September 11 terrorist attacks, general aviation has been a favorite target for lingering public fears. AOPA Expo 2002 will be an opportunity to show GA for what it is: a vital, vibrant, careful part of American life.
More than half of the 80 hours of seminars will be devoted to air safety. More than 500 exhibitors will demonstrate the newest equipment and aircraft available.
Expo will kick off with more than 80 aircraft taking part in the Parade of Planes on Wednesday, October 23. The event runs through October 26.
The complete schedule for AOPA Expo 2002 is available on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/expo/schedule.cfm). Once again this year, you can build a personal calendar of events by checking the things you're interested in, then printing a customized schedule. Money-saving preregistration packages are available until October 11, with on-site registration available during the show.
For more information, visit the AOPA Expo 2002 Web site ( www.aopa.org/expo/).
AOPA's guide for lapsed pilots ready to return to the cockpit is now updated and available online ( www.aopa.org/members/files/guides/getback.html).
Called Pilots' Guide to Getting Back Into Flying, the 55-page booklet is free to AOPA members. A limited number of printed copies are also available for pilots without Internet access.
"Remember, your pilot's certificate never expired," said AOPA Vice President of Aviation Services Woody Cahall. "All you need to start flying again is a current medical certificate and a thorough flight review with a CFI."
Pilots' Guide to Getting Back Into Flying is designed to help pilots catch up on changed rules and procedures, no matter how long they have been away from the cockpit. In addition to providing tips, such as how to find a CFI for the flight review, the guide is broken into sections outlining the changes in aviation since a pilot last flew. The newest update to the guide is "If You Haven't Flown Since 2000."
Other sections include "If You Haven't Flown Since the Mid-'90s," "If You Haven't Flown Since the Early '90s," "If You Haven't Flown Since the '80s," and "If You Haven't Flown Since the '70s."
In addition, the online version of the guide contains links to recent articles on flight training and proficiency training from AOPA Pilot and AOPA Flight Training magazines.
A new and improved Find-a-Mentor/Find-a-Student service matching pilots looking to share the joy of flying with pilot prospects was unveiled recently on the AOPA Web site. The revamped service is part of AOPA Project Pilot, originally launched in 1994.
Since its inception, AOPA Project Pilot has helped some 25,000 AOPA members identify and offer to mentor more than 34,000 friends, family members, or coworkers who have the time, money, and interest to learn to fly. Members use AOPA Project Pilot resources to help their prospective new pilots through the flight-training process.
"New pilots are the key to keeping general aviation vibrant," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Through the Project Pilot program, pilots can share their enthusiasm, and student pilots have a chance to gain some experience the easy way instead of the hard way."
AOPA Project Pilot provides support materials as part of the program. For mentors, a variety of printed and online resources are available to help them support their Project Pilot nominees from first flight through the checkride. Students receive a free six-month AOPA Flight Training Membership, including AOPA's Joy of Flying video, six issues of AOPA Flight Training magazine, and access to the members-only section of AOPA Online, among other things.
More information on Project Pilot, including a link to the Find-a-Mentor/Find-a-Student service, is available online ( www.aopa.org/info/pp/).
Standing before more than 140 pilots based at Southern California's busy Van Nuys Airport, AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Bill Dunn in late May pledged AOPA's support for fair treatment of piston-aircraft operators.
The special affirmation came after it was revealed that the updated master plan for Van Nuys Airport calls for reducing space available for smaller GA aircraft by disposing of airport property and adding facilities for large corporate aircraft. Dunn told those attending that AOPA would strongly oppose release of airport property for nonaviation purposes until such time as all aviation needs have been met.
In a separate meeting, Dunn told Van Nuys Airport Assistant Manager Leigh Hatayama that "piston aircraft should not be the sacrificial lamb of the airport's desire to dispose of airport property."
AOPA carried the fight for North Carolina's Horace Williams Airport to the state legislature in May.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which owns the popular GA airport, announced suddenly in late April that it would close the airport "within weeks or months" and redevelop the property into a "Carolina North" campus, including a technology park, offices, and classroom buildings.
In a meeting with Speaker of the North Carolina General Assembly James B. Black, AOPA President Phil Boyer suggested that maintaining Horace Williams Airport next to that development would make the technology park much more desirable to the private businesses the university hopes to attract.
Boyer also pointed out that the situation at Horace Williams was similar to circumstances faced at Meigs Field in Chicago, where Mayor Richard Daley was trying to balance the interests of various communities. He suggested that the university should set a fixed closing date for the airport five years from now, allowing time to seek alternatives to closing the airport and allowing airport users to plan for the future.
Boyer said that AOPA was also willing to work with the university to find ways to put the airport on a more sound financial base.
AOPA is fighting a proposed New Jersey law (A.B.1649) that would require criminal-history record checks on flight students.
In a letter to New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey in May, AOPA President Phil Boyer said that "pilots shouldn't be treated like criminals" and argued that the state should allow the federal government to address security on a national level.
The association also said that, with more than 11,400 active pilots and nearly 1,800 new student pilots every year in the Garden State, the bill would create an administrative and financial burden that would discourage many people from learning to fly.
AOPA's 9,300 members in New Jersey were asked to contact their legislators to voice their concerns about the proposed law.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's acclaimed "Spatial Disorientation" seminar is now available as a Seminar-in-a-Box, making it accessible to groups of pilots unable to attend live ASF programs.
The new program contains videos, a presenter's guide, appropriate safety pamphlets, and door prizes. As with the 10 other ASF Seminar-in-a-Box kits already available, "Spatial Disorientation" helps pilot groups or FAA-designated safety counselors conduct a high-quality safety seminar on a local level.
Key elements of the seminar include:
The newest Seminar-in-a-Box contains the same material used in ASF's live "Spatial Disorientation" presentation, which has drawn crowds averaging 30 percent larger than other ASF seminars since it was introduced. As of mid-May, more than 15,400 pilots and flying companions had seen the presentation at 62 locations across the country.
Other ASF Seminar-in-a-Box programs now available include "Airspace Refresher," "Collision Avoidance," "Fuel Awareness," "GPS for VFR Operations," "Operations at Towered Airports," "Never Again," "More Never Again," "Weather Strategies," "Weather Tactics," and "Trigger Tapes."
All ASF Seminars-in-a-Box may be ordered directly from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation by calling 800/638-3101, ext. 2175, or by visiting the Web site ( www.aopa.org/asf/seminars/sib.html). Although the programs are free, there is a $24.95 shipping and handling fee.
In just over a year, more than 16,000 pilots successfully completed ASF's free Runway Safety Program online ( www.aopa.org/asf/online_courses/runway_safety/).
"ASF is committed to using innovative means of providing safety information to pilots," said Bruce Landsberg, ASF executive director. "Based on the success of this course, you can expect more free Web-based ASF safety courses."
The ASF Runway Safety online course debuted in March 2001 to help general aviation pilots learn how to avoid potentially dangerous situations on airports, including inadvertent trespasses on active runways. Since then the number of runway incursions has decreased from 431 in 2000 to 383 in 2001.
"The number of runway incursions is a real 'hot button' for the FAA and Congress," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA and ASF are committed to finding simple and effective solutions that can be implemented now. Pilot education is the fastest and most effective way to reduce the chance of an incursion."
Boyer previewed the course for FAA Administrator Jane Garvey in late February. She hailed the ASF Runway Safety Program as "an extraordinary training tool." She added, "This addition to the AOPA Web site is yet another excellent AOPA initiative to increase pilot awareness and improve runway safety."
More than 200 members of an airport support group founded by ASN volunteer of the month Arthur M. "Arty" Sternberg turned out in May for an Oceanside (California) City Council meeting, successfully encouraging city fathers to request $2.7 million in federal grants to help protect their airport against further encroachment.
"This is the beginning of the rebirth of Oceanside Municipal Airport," Sternberg told Oceanside Airport Association (OAA) supporters after the 4-1 vote, noting that elected city officials are beginning to understand the value of their airport. He helped form the 501(c)(3) nonprofit, public-benefit organization in January after antiairport forces claiming noise pollution attempted to close the airport.
To help raise public awareness of the airport, OAA has also sponsored barbecue picnics and provided GA familiarization flights for more than 100 local children. The association's Web site ( www.oceansideairport.org) provides a steady flow of updates and information.
"A well-organized local airport association like OAA is key to gaining local community support," said Sternberg.
For more information on forming an airport support group or dealing with local elected officials, go to AOPA's Airport Support Network Web site ( www.aopa.org/asn/) and click on the link "AOPA Help for Saving Airports."
By Mark Lowdermilk, AOPA ASN program manager
Most pilots have heard of crew resource management. CRM allows a crew to organize and utilize all available resources for a safe flight.
What does this have to do with saving airports? Look at the reports on this page. All show pilot groups effectively organizing and utilizing resources to promote and protect their airports.
Let's call it airport resource management (ARM). Do we need it? You bet! At many airports — possibly your own — there are well-organized groups fighting to restrict operations or close the airport altogether. These groups know how to effectively promote their issue, gain the sympathy of disinterested parties, and work the political system.
It would be nice to think that pilots can be above such "in the trenches" fighting, but they can't. Protecting and promoting airports begins with us, and the best time to organize such an effort is now, before your airport is threatened.
Your local AOPA ASN volunteer has detailed information on organizing such efforts. Ask your volunteer for this information, and if your airport doesn't have a support group, offer to help him or her get one started.
Not sure if your airport has an AOPA ASN volunteer? Visit the ASN Web site ( www.aopa.org/asn/) and click on "Find Your Airport Volunteer." If your airport has no ASN volunteer, you may nominate yourself at the same site.
Public-use airports in the United States are closing at the rate of about one every two weeks. The AOPA Airport Support Network designates one volunteer per airport to watch for threats and encourage favorable public perception of general aviation. For more information on how you can help support your airport, visit AOPA online ( www.aopa.org/asn/ ).
Connecticut. Groton: Eight members of the Groton-New London Airport Support Group appeared at an April public hearing to support construction of a runway safety area for Runway 5/23 at Groton-New London Airport. The group was organized by AOPA ASN volunteer Donald Cates.
Massachusetts. Newburyport: Recent improvements at Plum Island Airport include better tiedowns, installation of a unicom and weather station, and construction of a new museum to showcase photos and memorabilia of the historic airport. AOPA ASN volunteer Robert G. Walton also reports plans by Plum Island Community Airfield Inc. (PICA) to rebuild a hangar and create a communications network to increase community awareness of the airport. Walton was the recipient of AOPA's prestigious Laurence P. Sharples Award in 2001 for his role in saving the field from permanent closure.
Montana. Hamilton: Major maintenance and taxiway improvement projects are scheduled for Ravalli County Airport this year despite heavy resistance from an antiairport group. In addition, 100 acres of adjoining farmland have been purchased to protect the airport from further residential development, and a new FBO has opened for business. AOPA ASN volunteer Wendy Beye, who has been working with the Ravalli County Pilots Association for the improvements, reports that pilots are delighted with the apparent change in attitude toward the airport by Ravalli County commissioners.
Oregon. Florence: AOPA ASN volunteer Steve Saubert is working with local pilots and the developer of a planned 118-home subdivision to minimize effects of the new housing on the Florence Municipal Airport. Residential encroachment is a leading cause of airport restrictions and eventual closure, and current plans call for the subdivision to be built just 500 feet west of the edge of Runway 15/33.
AOPA members are sharing their love of flying through AOPA Project Pilot. Across the nation, AOPA Project Pilot mentors are helping student pilots realize the dream of learning to fly. From first flight to checkride, a mentor's keen and personal interest helps ensure that the student pilot receives the best possible introduction to flying.
I started flying at age one, when our Piper Turbo Dakota became part of the family. Passionate about flying, my father navigated to vacation destinations, the best roller coasters, Grandma's house, and the ultimate $100 hamburger. My mom flew right seat and envisioned her perfect retirement life of flying around the country. She began flight training with my dad as her mentor, and is now charging toward her instrument rating.
As a kid, I played with dad's outdated charts and mimicked his instrument clearance readbacks, sitting in the right seat whenever possible. With his mentoring, I earned my private pilot certificate at the age of 17. Now with college degree and instrument rating in hand, I'm working toward my commercial certificate, multiengine rating, and an airline career.
Our family continues to fly for business and pleasure. Our next challenge is to find a way to make our Dakota a tri-controlled aircraft, so no one has to sit in the backseat. — Kristine Rosso, daughter of John Rosso, AOPA 458397
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