President's Position

Connecting GA

February 1, 2011

Craig FullerMy first two years as president of AOPA were filled with travel—there’s no substitute for the face-to-face meetings I have had with members. And, there is no better way to show elected officials just how passionate we are about aviation than to hold our GA Serves America gatherings.

This year, I hope to have the chance to see even more of you, along with anyone else who has an interest in aviation. It’s all part of the “Rally GA” initiative we’re focusing on for 2011. We need to raise the level of interest in and utilization of GA for more and more people. To do that, we need to connect. We need to interact with each other, and we need to bring in people who demonstrate even the slightest curiosity about this freedom to fly that we all cherish.

We at AOPA want to create opportunities for building connections, so I am focusing on the events that are already on the schedule for 2011. I share this information to encourage you to add these events to your calendar, too. Come see us, and bring a friend. Here’s what we have for now:

  • February 24-26—International Women in Aviation Conference, Reno, Nevada. It’s always a pleasure to join Women in Aviation International President Peggy Chabrian to address the thousands who attend her group’s annual meeting. Two years ago, it was at this meeting that I gave away an AOPA sweepstakes airplane. I can’t promise another giveaway, but I do know it’s a great forum to focus on the year ahead.
  • February 26-27—Northwest Aviation Conference, Puyallup, Washington. Always well attended, this annual gathering is where I want to elaborate on our “Rally GA” theme…and, there is nowhere better as our members and fellow aviators in the Northwest are as enthusiastic as they come!
  • March 5-8—Heli-Expo, Orlando, Florida. Matt Zuccaro has been a great ally on general aviation issues. I am looking forward to spending a couple days at his annual Helicopter International gathering knowing that the exhibitors are showing off some of the finest rotor-related products in the world.
  • March 29-April 3—Sun ’n Fun, Lakeland, Florida. John Burton and his fine team came to visit us at AOPA before the end of 2010 and we are very excited about our participation in this wonderful spring event! I could not be more excited about Burton’s efforts to bring all of GA together. This is the place to be to “Rally GA” and our whole team will be there.
  • May 25-27—Texas Aviation Conference, Austin, Texas. When it comes to pilots, Texas has one of the largest populations in the nation, so it’s no surprise that the state takes aviation seriously. This event, sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation and co-sponsored by the Texas Airport Council and Texas Aviation Association, is a great opportunity to reach pilots, GA users, and state transportation officials in one place.
  • July 8-9—Wing Nuts Flying Circus and Fly-In, Tarkio, Missouri. Don’t let the name fool you, I’ve been to this event before and these are serious aviators who gather at the invitation of House of Representatives GA Caucus co-chairman, AOPA member, and avid pilot Rep. Sam Graves. I look forward to being in the heart of America for this day-and-a-half gathering.
  • July 12—Wichita Aero Club, Wichita, Kansas. This may be one of the youngest Aero Clubs in America, but they really turn out here in the heart of our aviation manufacturing community. It is always a pleasure to join these passionate aviators for one of their luncheons. This midyear event will be a good time to take stock of the first half of 2011 and discuss what the rest of the year promises politically and economically.
  • July 25-31—EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This can’t-miss event is one I look forward to from the moment we depart Oshkosh the year before. Tom Poberezny, Rod Hightower, and I have opportunities to work together throughout the year, but our AOPA team shows up in force at AirVenture to celebrate the best of GA and show our respect for all that our friends and colleagues at EAA achieve at this gathering for our GA community.
  • September 22-24—AOPA Aviation Summit, Hartford, Connecticut. I’ve been to Hartford already in preparation for our Summit, and I couldn’t be more excited about the enthusiasm we’ve experienced from our friends in Connecticut. This will be a wonderful venue both at the convention hall and at the Hartford-Brainard Airport. Please mark your calendars and join all of us at AOPA for our annual event.
  • October 10-12—NBAA, Las Vegas, Nevada. We plan to again join with NBAA to offer the Light Business Aircraft Conference first during our Summit and again at their annual gathering. This meeting offers aviators a chance to see the full range of aircraft being used in business today. And, there are always some exciting announcements made by the world’s finest GA manufacturers.

Add to these visits a number of AOPA Town Hall meetings, where I have a chance to interact with our members, and a growing list of local aviation events that we’re hoping to attend, and 2011 promises to be filled with great opportunities to get connected. I hope you’ll get your calendar out and block out time to come and see the AOPA team as often as you can. Let’s get together, celebrate the freedom to fly, and Rally GA!

E-mail AOPA President Craig Fuller at craig@aopa.org. Since taking office in January 2009, AOPA President Craig Fuller has logged 700 hours traveling for GA.