April 23, 2009
By Ian J. Twombly
AOPA’s Big Yellow Tent at Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., this week is like a miniature AOPA headquarters, if questions and comments from members are any indication. Between the sweepstakes airplane, membership renewals, advocacy efforts, and AOPA Air Safety Foundation courses, the famous yellow tent is a meeting ground for all things general aviation.
“Pilots are coming in droves to talk about the new flight planner,” said AOPA Pilot Information Center (PIC) staff member Chris Prichett. “They are asking good questions and giving lots of great feedback.”
Other computer-based programs are also on member’s minds, said the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Machteld Smith and Kathleen Vasconcelos. “Many of them have taken all our award-winning online courses.”
As members of AOPA, everyone is aware of advocacy challenges and concerns when they come in. Prichett and other AOPA PIC staff are taking questions on the TSA’s large aircraft security program, customs issues, and more. GA Serves America, launched earlier this week, has also generated lots of comments, said AOPA Media Relations Director Chris Dancy.
“Members are coming to us talking about how much flying impacts their lives and their businesses,” he said. “One member even said his business couldn’t survive without his modest Piper Warrior.”
But the things that keep members coming back to the tent day after day are membership renewals, the 2009 Let’s Go Flying Sweepstakes Cirrus SR22, and the daily drawing, which makes them eligible for a new, exciting prize every day. Of course, no trip to the tent would be complete without a new AOPA hat, which is brown and tan this year.
Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager.
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