September 29, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
When an issue of concern to general aviation arises, it's not unusual for a pilot community to find out that their local AOPA Airport Network (ASN) volunteer is already on the case.
Keeping that critical network informed and inspired was on the agenda at AOPA Aviation Summit on Sept. 23, when volunteers had a chance to mingle with colleagues and meet with AOPA President Craig Fuller, ASN Director Joey Colleran, and other key advocacy staff members.
The ASN program continues to grow and now includes 2,400 volunteers.
Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy, briefed the group on AOPA's new commitment to state-level advocacy through its just-announced regional manager program. The program, unveiled Sept. 18, marks the first significant change in AOPA's field representation program in many years.
“In addition to representing AOPA member interests with state and local government officials, AOPA's new regional managers will play an important role in the association's efforts to increase member engagement in supporting general aviation, and explaining how general aviation airports serve America,” Pecoraro said.
The new grassroots engagement initiative “will explore how AOPA can create opportunities and encourage members to develop and join aviation communities centered around their airports. The goal of these airport community groups will be to support general aviation, the airports it needs, and add to the fun and camaraderie of aviation,” he told the volunteers.
Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airport advocacy, and John Collins, manager of airport policy, have worked closely in the field with many ASN volunteers at airports across the country. They reviewed current airport advocacy issues and gave an overview of the many advocacy resources and tools available to all volunteers and AOPA members.
The AOPA staff members and volunteers welcomed Experimental Aircraft Association Vice President of Industry and Regulatory Affairs Sean Elliott to the meeting. AOPA and EAA work closely together on many of the important issues facing GA nationally.
Also at AOPA Aviation Summit, the 2011 AOPA Sharples Award was conferred on Bob Larkin, the ASN volunteer from Reno, Nev. The award is given annually to an individual who shows unselfish devotion to aviation.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.
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