October 6, 2008
By Thomas B Haines
AOPA President Phil Boyer credited the 415,000 AOPA members, the association’s staff, and his wife, Lois, for his recognition Oct. 6 at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention in Orlando, Fla.
In front of a room full of aviation dignitaries, Boyer said NBAA’s Meritorious Service Award, one of aviation’s most prestigious awards, is a reflection of the support he has received from others during his nearly 18 years as president of AOPA.
“I’ve been nothing more than the pilot in the left seat. Everything I’ve done here I’ve looked at as a pilot might. With every issue, a pilot might wonder, ‘How would it affect my airport, my maintenance, the airspace I use?’ I did what any other pilot might have done in this position,” he said.
The award honors Boyer’s lifetime commitment to aviation. A video introduction reflected on his early days as a pilot when he used airplanes for personal and business flights, even bartering time in a radio station’s traffic reporting airplane for personal flight time to take his family on vacations.
During his time at AOPA, Boyer has connected with everyday pilots and taken an active role in forging industry relationships that led to the passage, in 1994, of the General Aviation Revitalization Act, which helped to revive the moribund general aviation industry of the day.
He championed industry cooperation on recruiting new pilots, faced the media, and educated Congress after high-profile accidents—often preventing knee-jerk reactions that would harm GA. After the 2001 terrorist attacks, he was a point-person in helping to bring reasonable security changes to GA, as opposed to onerous ones initially proposed by regulators.
In accepting the award, Boyer said, “The people who deserve this are the ones who actively work to improve the safety, increase the fun, and enhance the utility of all of GA.”
AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines joined AOPA in 1988. He owns and flies a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. Since soloing at 16 and earning a private pilot certificate at 17, he has flown more than 100 models of general aviation airplanes.
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