President's Position: Join the force

May 1, 2010

Craig Fuller

All this year, we’ve been talking about getting engaged in aviation and the many simple ways we can all take action to protect our freedom to fly.

Along the way I’ve discovered most of the AOPA members I meet don’t know about some of the most basic and vital tools we have for protecting aviation—AOPA’s three fundraising programs. You can’t support what you don’t know about, so I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about these programs, what they do, and why they are so important to our future.

The first, The AOPA Foundation, is AOPA’s 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Money raised by The AOPA Foundation is tax-deductible and goes to support safety, education, and research programs. Specifically, The AOPA Foundation is focusing its efforts on four areas that our members have identified as critical to general aviation’s future: protecting airports, restoring the pilot population, improving the image of general aviation, and enhancing GA safety.

The second organization, the AOPA Political Action Committee, is just for AOPA members. It stands up for the rights of pilots and represents the interests of general aviation in Congress. In this election year, the PAC has an especially important role to play, helping AOPA support candidates who support GA.

And the third organization, General Aviation Serves America, was created to let people know just how valuable GA is to all Americans, whether they fly or not. Through advertising, public events, and other opportunities, GA Serves America is helping decision makers and the public discover GA’s vital role in our national transportation network.

Together, these organizations fund much of the work AOPA does—far more than membership dues alone can cover.

All of these organizations have impressive track records, so contributors know that their money is being used wisely and effectively. In just the past year, The AOPA Foundation funded numerous AOPA Air Safety Foundation projects, including interactive online courses, Real Pilot Stories, safety quizzes, and more. It also helped to increase the awareness of GA by supporting AOPA Live—a streaming media outlet that has reached more than 150,000 people in 160 countries with video information, stories, and interviews on general aviation topics. And The AOPA Foundation also helped to get more people flying by supporting the launch of AOPA’s Let’s Go Flying Web site.

At the same time, the AOPA Political Action Committee has helped us support more than 300 members of Congress, including members of the GA caucuses in the House and Senate. In this election year, it will help AOPA support the reelection of members of Congress who have opposed user fees, fought onerous security proposals, and taken other action to support general aviation.

And the GA Serves America campaign has delivered its message about the true value of GA more than 44 million times, generated more than 250 news stories, and drawn more than 3,000 pilots to share their engagement tips through our Web site. With the help of our volunteer spokesmen, actors Harrison Ford and Morgan Freeman, the GA Serves America campaign is continuing to get the message out in Washington, D.C., and around the nation.

All of this is in addition to the wide range of services we provide to AOPA members every day. That’s why we need your help. It’s a big agenda, but it’s one we believe is vital to protecting our freedom to fly for the long term.

We’re making it easier for you to learn more about each of these programs and make a contribution with a tab on the AOPA.org home page. When you make a contribution to The AOPA Foundation, the AOPA Political Action Committee, or the GA Serves America campaign, you’re joining forces with thousands of other pilots, aircraft owners, and aviation enthusiasts—so even small individual contributions can have a big impact.

I encourage you to visit our Web site and learn more about the work we’re doing on behalf of GA, and I hope you’ll consider making a contribution, as well. Only your support can provide the resources we need to protect our freedom to fly. And, it’s one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to get engaged!

See “ State of the Association: Mission Engage,”; “ Exclusive Interview: GA’s Watchdog in Congress,”; and “ Member Perspective: Paying It Forward,” for more information.

E-mail AOPA President Craig Fuller at craig@aopa.org.