Fuller, airport volunteers talk 'grass roots' advocacy

July 31, 2009

Before the morning hustle and bustle of EAA AirVenture started up July 31, AOPA President Craig Fuller and the AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteers set aside time to discuss what the group can do to help protect general aviation at the local level.

“There are so many stories about how airports are helping their communities—those are the stories we are trying to tell people,” Fuller told 50 volunteers and their guests. “We cannot be successful unless we have very loud voices across the country,” he continued, explaining the importance of telling those positive GA stories and the value of airports to local elected officials and their national representatives.

ASN volunteers serve as AOPA’s “eyes and ears” at the local level and help promote the airports in their communities as well as alert and work with AOPA to help defend their airports from threats ranging from noise complaints to closure. “We want to make sure you have the tools to help you do that,” Fuller said, explaining the association’s efforts to support the volunteers.

Volunteers also help AOPA fight onerous legislation at the state level by getting pilots at their airports to speak out for GA. After receiving advance “Action Alerts” on sensitive issues, the volunteers start mobilizing at the local level, reinforcing the “power and importance of grass roots action,” said AOPA Manager of State Legislative Affairs Mark Kimberling. He emphasized that state legislators “want and need to hear from their constituency.”

AOPA has 2,000 ASN volunteers at public-use airports nationwide, but that leaves more than 2,000 airports essentially unprotected. Find out if your airport has an ASN volunteer; if not, learn how you can sign up.