Barcelona mayor honors GA efforts at Red Bull air races

October 7, 2009

IAOPA members in Barcelona Mayor Jordi Hereu i Boher (center) presented an award from the City of Barcelona to IAOPA Secretary General John Sheehan (left) and Senior Vice President of IAOPA Europe Martin Robinson (right).

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Barcelona, Spain, Oct. 3 and 4 highlighted the capabilities of small aircraft in a landscape that is sometimes inhospitable to general aviation: Restrictions and high costs of flying challenge pilots’ freedom to fly in many parts of Europe. But the mayor of Barcelona expressed support for GA and the organizations that work to protect it worldwide, presenting the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) with an award at a ceremony Oct. 4.

Mayor Jordi Hereu i Boher praised aviation activities in the Barcelona area, especially GA, and commended Aeroclub of Barcelona-Sabadell and the IAOPA member organization AOPA-Spain for their work in helping the local economy and encouraging people to learn to fly. He said much of this was possible through the help and leadership of IAOPA and its regional organization IAOPA Europe.

AOPA-U.S. is the largest of 68 national organizations that comprise IAOPA, an organization dedicated to protecting GA across the globe. As president of AOPA, Craig Fuller is also president of IAOPA. IAOPA Representatives John Sheehan and Martin Robinson accepted the award in Barcelona after attending a regional meeting of the organization.

“Upon receiving the award of recognition for IAOPA, I praised the vibrant aerospace industry of the Catalonia region and for their recognition of general aviation as a significant portion of the aviation picture within the region,” Sheehan said. “I singled out the work of the AOPA-Spain for their efforts at the local and national level to improve general aviation and community relations.” Sheehan also invited the crowd to come to the local GA airport to learn to fly.

General aviation in Europe continues to face significant challenges, Sheehan said, but it “still fights for its rights and makes small gains.” One of those gains was near Barcelona; Robinson worked with local GA groups to keep nearby Sabadell Airport from closing after an accident two years ago. IAOPA continues to work with Spanish organizations to address regulations that severely restrict GA operations in the country, and Sheehan and Robinson met several times during the visit with Carlos Marti, president of the Aeroclub of Barcelona-Sabadell and AOPA-Spain, and Juan Manuel Perez, counsel for the organizations.

The IAOPA regional meeting in Barcelona brought together 12 European affiliates and representatives from the European Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency. As member organizations fight to protect GA in their respective countries, regional meetings help them coordinate their efforts to speak out in a strong voice about GA in Europe.