President's Position

The place to be

November 2, 2009

As November approaches, the final preparations are being made for AOPA’s annual gathering, which is now AOPA Aviation Summit. All of the exhibits that have always made our Expo enjoyable will be there, along with the forums. But our concept for AOPA Aviation Summit is to bring leaders from general aviation together to reflect on the future and on our opportunities going forward.

I hope you’ve made plans to join us in Tampa, Florida, November 5 through 7. If you haven’t, don’t wait. Make your plans by visiting the Web site or calling us at 800-USA-AOPA. We can help with everything from transportation to hotels and event tickets. There’s so much to see and do, you’ll definitely want to be part of the excitement.

Personally, I am excited to see so many things coming together for Aviation Summit. We have worked all year to strengthen alliances in our general aviation community, and leaders of the important general aviation associations will be with us, as will leaders from key manufacturers. And we’ll share the latest developments in our national campaign, General Aviation Serves America. Launched earlier this year, the campaign has had some remarkable success and is widely supported throughout the GA community.

No matter your interests, you’ll find exactly the information and tools you’re seeking at Aviation Summit. That’s why we’ll have so many new areas of interest throughout the beautiful Tampa Convention Center. One important new feature is called “AOPA Live,” and it will provide all of our members, and others interested in general aviation, a window into Aviation Summit. From right in the middle of the exhibit hall, I will be joined by AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines and others from AOPA for interviews with aviation leaders, policy makers, technology gurus, and others. We’ll ask the questions you want answered, and we’ll delve into the issues that matter to you most. And, we’ll broadcast it all on AOPA Live.

The reality is that even if we break all attendance records at AOPA Aviation Summit, there will still be 400,000 of our members who can’t be with us in Tampa. For you, AOPA Live will provide an around-the-clock look at the people and events of Aviation Summit. And—because so much is going on—even if you spend the full three days with us, you won’t be able to catch it all. AOPA Live and our digital library will give you a chance to see what you may have missed. We will be on the air beginning Thursday, November 5, from Tampa.

We want Aviation Summit to be the place where aviation meets—and that means inviting participation from all segments of the aviation community, from the aspiring pilot to the pro. It also means offering something valuable to all of those groups.

For those who’ve considered flying but haven’t yet taken that first step, we’ll be offering reduced-cost introductory flights at Peter O. Knight Airport, another first for an AOPA convention.

Those already in training can find everything from educational seminars to training loans to motivation to help keep you moving toward your goals. Pilots looking to enhance their knowledge and improve their safety will benefit from the dozens of available seminars, while those looking to move up can shop for everything from educational software to flight schools to new airplanes.

We want Aviation Summit to represent everyone in aviation, but we also recognize that not everyone shares precisely the same interests. That’s why this year’s exhibit hall will offer new specialty areas, including one for women and another focused on medical issues.

Aviation Summit will also put a special focus on health care and we will announce an exciting new initiative that can benefit all of us as AOPA members. AOPA members have made it clear that medical-related issues are of special importance. In fact, our medical specialists receive more than 60,000 calls each year from AOPA members who have questions or need help navigating aviation medical issues. And so we’ll be unveiling a new program at Aviation Summit designed specifically with the health needs and concerns of pilots in mind. I won’t give away the details here, but I will say that I think AOPA can do more to help members with health-related issues—stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

Aviation Summit is the place where the aviation community can focus on the serious issues facing us individually and as a group. But it’s also a place to relax and have fun sharing what we love. That’s why I am so excited about the many social opportunities, from our luncheon to a dinner at Tampa’s renowned aquarium to live music events featuring superstar performers.

After weeks and months of preparation, the big day is almost here and I can’t wait to unwrap AOPA’s first Aviation Summit. Whether you are there or watching AOPA Live, I think you will find our annual gathering is an event not to be missed.