President's Position: Fly AOPA

February 1, 2009

Craig Fuller took the reins of the AOPA presidency in January 2009 after a successful career in national politics.

There is no shortage of speculation about the future around us here in the nation’s capital. With concern about the economy, challenging foreign affairs initiatives around the world, and the new administration of President Barack Obama, there is much to speculate about. During one of these frequent conversations, a friend and fellow pilot said to me, “You just have to do what we’ve always been told to do when things get challenging—fly the airplane!”

Of course, like you, I have heard that phrase many times. The phrase is a perfect metaphor when applied to the threats and challenges we face today in general aviation. In our case, fly AOPA!

AOPA has been here for its members in good times and tough times. We are committed not only to being here, but also to engaging in every way possible on your behalf. High on our list of priorities is presenting our views on transportation issues to the incoming members of the Obama administration and the many new members of Congress. Some of these individuals are well known to AOPA staff. That is especially true of the new Secretary of Transportation, former Congressman Ray LaHood.

We are constantly working to strengthen our presence in Washington and beyond. We are fortunate to have Lorraine Howerton joining AOPA as the head of our Washington office. Howerton brings great experience as an advocate to AOPA, and she has worked on transportation issues, most recently at a law firm already engaged by AOPA. Read more about Howerton on AOPA Online.

Our ability to advocate effectively and to share the views of general aviation with today’s policymakers is possible because we put such a high priority on communicating with AOPA members and other GA enthusiasts. Whether you are flying the same amount as usual, more, or, like many, just a little less, we want to reach and engage you in ways that maintain your interest, currency, and passion for GA. A tall order, but I think we have and will create even more tools to meet your needs.

AOPA Pilot will always be our premier publication where Editor in Chief Tom Haines and his team do a remarkable job of showing what general aviation is about every month. For me, Pilot has been a mandatory cover-to-cover reading requirement for many years! The work of Tom and company does not stop with the magazine. You can now read regular electronic blog postings from all of the members of our top publications team. In fact, you can even subscribe with just one click to all of our blog postings to really stay in touch. Visit the Web site.

Speaking of blogs, starting this month, I will have my own. I am calling it AOPA NOW! because when something develops where we need to share something “right now,” you will find it at AOPA NOW! I also look forward to sending reports from the airways as I travel throughout the country.

Hundreds of thousands of our members receive AOPA ePilot each Friday. There is no more popular e-publication, and it is a ticket to many of the newest and most interesting places on AOPA Online.

We are also introducing a new way to share information. This month, Aviation eBrief becomes available to members and nonmembers who have an interest in GA. Aviation eBrief is free to everyone and provides readers with a five-day-a-week scan of news stories and other features concerning GA. This is new and will evolve over time, but it is an important step in our determination to take our message on the importance of GA to wider audiences. I hope you will take a look at Aviation eBrief, and be sure to share it with a few of your friends!

In 2009 and for years to come, enhancing the perception of GA will be a critical mission here at AOPA. I see it as fundamental to protecting our freedoms and our ability to fly. In my view, the greatest threat to our future is in the lack of understanding about the role GA plays every day in the nation’s transportation system. The AOPA Foundation and Campaign for General Aviation, designed to enhance perception about GA, will play an important role in this area, and it is something you will hear more about during the course of the year.

It is also important to highlight the role that the AOPA Air Safety Foundation can play in our quest for safer and better-informed aviating. With a few more weeks of winter ahead of us, maintain your proficiency with regular visits to the Air Safety Foundation Web site. You will discover that the online courses increasingly utilize state-of-the-art technology to make the learning experience better all the time.

It would not be possible for AOPA to do all it does without some great partners that sell products and provide services to the GA community. Providing information right to your fingertips in our print and electronic publications creates a unique opportunity for all of us. All members should be tremendously grateful for their continued support as they hunker down during tough economic times while still developing advertising programs with AOPA Pilot, AOPA Flight Training, and ePilot to ensure that you, as aircraft owners and pilots, have access to the best information available in the marketplace. You help your association and GA by shopping with our fine group of advertisers.

So, in every way possible, as you navigate through this and the early months of 2009, I hope you will fly AOPA. All of us are here for you and support your passion in aviation.