August 4, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
It has been a busy summer for the staff of the AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) program, meeting with volunteers across the country, participating in aviation events, and spreading the word about ASN to keep the program running in high gear.
Where will the ASN staff show up next?
From the Arlington Fly-in and Sport Aviation Convention in Snohomish County, Wash., to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., and airports in Utah and Colorado, AOPA’s ASN staff and program volunteers have come together to discuss issues and plan for the future.
“AOPA continues to reach out to help protect our freedom to fly,” said Joey Colleran, AOPA’s ASN program director.
At AirVenture, more than 100 guests attended AOPA’s annual meeting with ASN volunteers, hosted by Colleran. AOPA President Craig Fuller addressed the gathering.
The presence of an AOPA booth at the Arlington event—the third largest in the nation—was a first. Colleran conducted a workshop on airport protection and met with ASN volunteers from the region.
By becoming ASN volunteers, pilots form a kind of early warning system about issues that can affect the local airport, where too often the general aviation community is unaware of what other interests have in mind for their airport until a threat to GA becomes serious. Pressure on public and privately owned airports can include curfews, noise restrictions, lack of improvements, residential development encroaching on airport property or approaches—even calls to close the airport.
“The more time we have to counter the challenges faced by a local airport, the better the chance of preserving that airport or avoiding restrictions,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy.
While visiting Salt Lake City, Utah, to advocate for local airports, Pecoraro hosted a breakfast meeting for area volunteers. In Colorado he toured airports in Boulder, Longmont, Erie, Granby, and Aspen, where he met with ASN volunteers, airport managers, and tenants to discuss important issues at those airports.
“AOPA’s work protecting airports and pilot access are important to members, and the Airport Support Network provides a vehicle for early mobilization of our resources when an airport is targeted,” said Colleran.
AOPA will continue to be where aviation is happening, encouraging and educating members and nonaviators about the importance of preserving the freedom to fly, she said.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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