September 30, 2004
Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) lauded the work of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Wednesday night in Washington, D.C.
"General aviation, through the Air Safety Foundation, has taken upon itself to raise the bar of safety," said Oberstar. "All of the initiatives undertaken by the Air Safety Foundation - the 200-plus seminars a year, the Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics, the online training programs, and the Pinch-Hitter courses - all of these are critically important."
Oberstar was the featured speaker at a dinner honoring the elite members of ASF's " Hat in the Ring Society," who, through their philanthropic contributions to the Air Safety Foundation, are helping to significantly improve general aviation safety.
"The Air Safety Foundation raises three times as much money for aviation safety as does the Flight Safety Foundation, founded by the airlines," Oberstar told the group. "You are doing a lot more for your members, both proportionally and in real numbers, than the airlines are doing for their membership."
AOPA President Phil Boyer, master of ceremonies for the event, also made a special presentation to Hat in the Ring Society member Tom Haas.
"Tom Haas and I became acquainted when I first became AOPA president in 1991, and he has provided both generous financial support and invaluable guidance for the Air Safety Foundation ever since," said Boyer.
In recognition of his help in "plotting the course" for ASF, Boyer gave Haas the original E6B plotter that Boyer used as he earned his private certificate in 1967.
Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg noted that general aviation accident rates have continued to decline. "Through August of this year, the number of fatal accidents is down by 17 percent compared with the same period a year ago," he said.
Landsberg said there is another number that his organization is equally proud of - the number of ASF safety "contacts" with pilots. "If we can talk to pilots and help them make the right decisions, we can drive the accident rates to even lower levels," he said.
A decade ago, the Air Safety Foundation averaged some 50,000 pilot contacts annually. In the year 2004, ASF expects to make some 230,000 pilot contacts through its online safety programs, free pilot seminars, and safety publications.
"The airlines get to choose their pilots, they have two of them, and they are subjected to an enormous amount of oversight and regulation by the FAA," said Oberstar. "General aviation doesn't get to choose. You accept whomever comes. That is why the AOPA Air Safety Foundation is so important. You've taken the safety responsibility upon yourselves."
Oberstar is one of the most respected aviation experts in Congress. Now serving his fifteenth term, he has long been a champion of general aviation during his time as chairman of the aviation subcommittee, and in his current position as Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He has played an integral role in developing many important laws affecting aviation, most notably product liability reform in the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994. He is a champion of general aviation safety and has been a strong ally in AOPA's efforts to defeat air traffic control privatization and user fees, modernize flight service stations, and advance common-sense security measures.
Listen to Phil Boyer and Rep. James Oberstar (broadband connection recommended).
September 30, 2004
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