May 1, 2004
Last year was a banner year for the AOPA Air Safety Foundation safety education efforts, providing even better safety education to more and more pilots. As AOPA continued to fight for general aviation's access to the airspace, ASF brought online a new training program, "Know Before You Go," specifically addressing temporary flight restrictions (TFRs). Thousands of pilots viewed the program, learning to cope with mushrooming TFRs and avoid legal and potentially threatening entanglements with law enforcement. The program was a perfect complement to AOPA's new Real-Time Flight Planner and even included a refresher on basic airspace.
Safety, like fuel, is one of those ongoing requirements for flight, and ASF has been giving pilots more ways to make the right safety choices. In last year's annual report we discussed insurance issues and public perception, both closely tied to GA safety. The mass media frequently sensationalizes and creates "news" when the facts are often far less exciting. ASF's job is to keep the GA safety picture as boring as possible to the nonflying public while making it enticing for pilots to participate in targeted programs.
According to NTSB preliminary numbers, total GA accidents in 2003 were up less than 1 percent, to 1,725. Midair collisions increased by 2 percent, to 11. Fatal accidents increased by 1.7 percent, to 351. ASF's annual Nall Report, the first look at GA accidents for the prior year, continued as a source of guidance for ASF, the industry, and the FAA, and is used as a reference in several leading aviation college and university safety classes. Our safety record, while not alarming, is certainly evidence that continuing safety education is essential.
In 2003, ASF introduced two new online courses. The previously mentioned "Know Before You Go" was popular, but response to "Single-Pilot IFR" (SPIFR), the second in ASF's instrument flight refresher series, at times threatened to bring the ASF server to its electronic knees. Just three months after the course was introduced, more than 10,000 pilots had earned their SPIFR graduation certificates. It was the best early response ever!
Runway safety continues as a hot topic in aviation, and by the time you read this, an exciting new ASF runway safety program, funded by the FAA, will be online.
Another active area in 2003 involved the ASF safety database. With assistance from the NTSB, the FAA, and The Emil Buehler Trust, safety products based on the database are expanding rapidly. The database itself was made available online in 2002, allowing individual pilots to search light-fixed-wing aircraft accidents using a variety of selection criteria. Pilot usage of that resource soared to unprecedented levels. ASF research, using the database, identified low-level maneuvering flight as a major area for fatal accidents, so a special ASF study on stalls and spins was produced. It and other special studies are available online ( www.asf.org). ASF's online CFI refresher course, in partnership with Jeppesen, continued to attract instructors and grew significantly, becoming a leader for CFI online renewal. It is now available to any pilot as an excellent supplement to general aviation safety education. Most of our online courses are accepted for the ground portion of the FAA Wings program.
ASF's in-person CFI refresher program remains the industry leader in weekend CFI courses. We went high-tech in 2003, providing every instructor in attendance with a CD-ROM with more ASF publications and materials than ever before.
The year 2003 set another record for attendance at live seminars, with more than 35,000 pilots attending two new programs. "Say Intentions," a program titled with those two words that air traffic control uses when things get sticky, turned out to be a dynamite program with excellent support from many local tracons, centers, and towers. It gave both controllers and pilots a great opportunity to discuss normal and emergency operations. "Watch This!" — the new program focused on maneuvering flight — opened at AOPA EXPO and attracted large audiences. Darwin awards are given during the program for some of the antics shown, but the program is not just about stupidity — maneuvering flight is something pilots do on every flight. Check it out when the program comes to your area.
ASF live programs also received matching grants from the states of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and New York. The FAA's Aviation Safety Program continued its fine work with ASF to assist with the live seminars, last year generously funding "Watch This!" These partnerships are a very cost-effective way to stretch safety resources.
ASF's Seminar-in-a-Box continued a fantastically successful run in 2003 as more than 17,000 pilots attended ASF programs presented by local CFIs, flight schools, flying clubs, and safety counselors. Seminars-in-a-Box packages our most popular safety seminars into a do-it-yourself format for small groups, and is available to pilot groups solely for the cost of shipping and handling. Pinch-Hitter ®, the well-known flying-companion ground course, is also available in multiple locations around the country. Resolve to enroll your nonpilot companion this year. At least give him or her the Pinch-Hitter DVD — it makes a great Mother's Day or Father's Day gift.
New ASF Safety Advisors, printed publications with fresh material, were produced in 2003 to support both the "Watch This!" and "Say Intentions" live programs. In addition, the annual Nall Report and all Safety Advisors are available online and most are in print — individual copies are free.
Most of ASF's seminar programs are now offered on DVD for home viewing, and may be purchased through Sporty's Pilot Shop for a nominal fee. A special safety outreach last year reached all 48,000 new private pilots and newly rated instrument pilots with pertinent safety information on a free DVD. This outreach was funded by AOPA for the fourth year running with distribution assistance by the FAA Safety Program , and it reached many more pilots than we can address through seminars alone. This association-foundation-FAA effort to promote safety is unique — no other industry goes to the effort or expense that general aviation does to provide first-class education materials to those who need them most.
The effort to fund, develop, and field major GA safety programs is significant, especially in light of tight individual and company budgets. Long-running partnerships with the FAA's Aviation Safety and Runway Safety programs continue, and contribute to a very efficient joint distribution system.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of ASF donors, pilots like you, who have made this organization a world-class model of what can be done with dedication and commitment to save lives and educate fellow aviators. On behalf of the ASF staff and the entire GA community, thank you for your support and interest in general aviation safety.
Safe Pilots. Safe Skies. — Bruce Landsberg, ASF Executive Director
In 2002 AOPA Air Safety Foundation touted that we had reached the GA pilot community 250,000 times through seminars, publications, and AOPA Online courses. Because of the special gifts of AOPA members in 2003, ASF was able to reach the GA pilot community more than 590,000 times last year. AOPA members understand that the $1 member donation given with their membership accounts for less than 8 percent of the budget. Your gifts make the difference!
Last year, we were concerned that a soft economy would stunt our safety program growth — it did not. Last year, we were also concerned that the new "do not call" telephone provisions would cut into your giving — it did not. AOPA members welcomed the opportunity to talk about safety. Tens of thousands of members made yearly tax-deductible donations through the mail appeals or during those safety foundation phone calls.
To catalyze major projects, a number of donors stepped forward. Among these is The Emil Buehler Trust's very generous contribution to sponsor the critical ASF accident database. Sporty's Pilot Shop underwrote an important issue of the ASF Instructor Report mailed to all CFIs. Our newest online course, "Single-Pilot IFR," was launched with funding by Michael Lazar and Lessing Stern. Bill Roosevelt and the William H. Donner Foundation again demonstrated their commitment to GA safety through another generous grant.
I also want to thank those many AOPA members who increased their annual giving in response to the matching-gift challenges funds from Mort Bass and Tom Haas, whose generosity was rewarded by your response. Bob Zemeckis, seeing the need for a full-scale analysis of technically advanced aircraft (TAA), funded an upcoming in-depth study on Cirrus and related aircraft. A very special thanks to the Adams Family Foundation for its generous grant to ASF.
Joining the Platinum Life Members of the Hat in the Ring Society, through endowment gifts of $100,000 and above, are Barron Hilton and Paul F. Burger. Special thanks to Mark Bluth and Ron Vickrey, who increased their endowments to the Silver Life Hat plateau. Fitzgerald Hudson's devotion to AOPA and ASF was memorialized through a Silver Life Membership. We welcome into the Life Membership, Hat in the Ring Society ASF stalwarts Lee Gilbert and Dale Machalleck.
Finally, last year the number of AOPA members joining the famed Hat in the Ring Society grew by more than 30 percent. Each Hat member annually donates a minimum of $1,000 in support of safety research and education. Details on giving can be found online ( www.asf.org); click on the You Can Help button.
Harvey W. Cohen Senior Vice President, Development
Pilot Training and Certification,
FAA Information and Services,
Able Flight has received and $8,000 check from the AOPA Foundation.
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.