June 11, 2009
By Elizabeth Tennyson
Getting positive attention for the General Aviation Serves America message is no easy task when the news is saturated with the nation’s economic woes, AOPA President Craig Fuller told participants in the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) Leadership Conference. But GA is full of positive, engaging stories that can and must be told in communities nationwide.
“We need to tell a compelling story,” Fuller told the audience of about 100.
“The story we have to tell is how thousands and thousands of people use GA every day.”
While the message is beginning to get attention and GA has found advocates on Capitol Hill, including lawmakers who have joined the newly formed General Aviation Caucus, more must be done to take the message out to the districts those lawmakers represent, Fuller said. He added that with the help of NATA members across the country, the GA Serves America message would reach far beyond Washington, D.C.
NATA, whose membership includes FBOs, flight schools, charter operators, and other GA-related businesses, is working closely with AOPA on the GA Serves America campaign to educate policymakers, opinion leaders, and the public about the true value of GA. NATA President Jim Coyne chairs the GA Serves America Advisory Council and has said that it is his goal to have every NATA member, and all of their customers, participating in the campaign.
Fuller, who delivered a keynote address and participated in a panel on the role of media coverage of GA, urged conference participants to be ready for the turnaround by helping local media representatives find the positive stories taking place at their community airports.
Fellow panelists Coyne and Bill Garvey, editor in chief of Business and Commercial Aviation, agreed that the message about GA’s true value needs to be heard by the broadest possible audience.
Garvey noted that in the past many of those who use GA have kept the fact quiet, prompting suspicion from those who see GA as a privilege of the rich or powerful. Instead, he suggested, that the ordinary people and businesses that use GA each day should not shy away from the fact that they take advantage of this important business tool.
FAA Financial and Regulatory
The GACE Flying Club, which grew from a club for Grumman employees, prides itself on offering members low-cost, safe flying and social events.
Sometimes in politics, the good news is that bad news won’t happen. Thanks to AOPA, antique aircraft collectors and aviation employers in Louisiana dodged legislative bullets that would have raised the costs of aircraft ownership or of doing business.
Chris Lawler, AOPA's Flying Club manager, explains what makes a 501(c)(3) a tax-exempt charitable organization; what makes a 501(c)(7) a social organization; and what advantages a flying club may receive by organizing as a tax-exempt organization.