Opinion Leaders blog launches

AOPA hosts platform to share diverse ideas about aviation

August 21, 2013

Is this the beginning of the end of VFR flying? Will AirVenture shrink to a fraction of its current size? What’s so bad about the “dive and drive” approach? Leaders in aviation are sharing their opinions on these topics and more in AOPA’s new Opinion Leaders blog.

AOPA has brought together 10 leaders in different segments of aviation ranging from business aviation to flight training to share their opinions, analysis, and forecasts of the industry. They tackle controversial topics—subjects you may have spent hours debating at the hangar with friends. Will you agree with their points of view? Share your own viewpoint in the comments area of each blog to generate a dialogue with your fellow pilots.

“We brought together a diversity of leaders from different segments of aviation to one platform for AOPA members to be able to join the conversation on issues at the heart of our community,” said AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines.

The blog is aimed at starting a dialogue about the future of aviation, sharing ideas, and building a sense of community. You might even find a new author you want to follow on a regular basis. (Readers’ should note that the opinions expressed by the bloggers do not reflect AOPA’s position on any topic.) If you find a blogger you want to follow, sign up for email alerts when a new post is added to the Opinion Leader blog. Two posts will be added to the blog each week.

Meet the Opinion Leaders authors, check out their first posts, and, most importantly, join in the conversation.

Jamie BeckettJamie Beckett, a self-proclaimed passionate promoter of all things aviation who focuses his attention on the positive more often than not, offers his advice on “Answer the big questions.” He warns that if potential pilots get intimidated with the thought flight training, they might turn to boating or RVing instead. Beckett brings his experience as president of Florida’s Polk Aviation Alliance to the blog, and is committed to working to build a growing pilot population as well as a greater appreciation for general aviation nationwide.

Amy LabodaAmy Laboda, an ATP-rated pilot with multiple flight instructor ratings, enjoys flying her two experimental aircraft and being active in the airpark community in which she lives. In “An accidental aviator makes good business,” Laboda shares the story of a woman who overcomes obstacles to go from a line worker to successful business owner. Laboda has been writing, editing, and publishing print materials for more than 28 years on an international scale. From conception to design to production, Laboda helps businesses and associations communicate through various media with their clients, valued donors, or struggling students who aspire to earn scholarships and one day lead.

Jolie LucasJolie Lucas, a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and private pilot, found herself in an awkward conversation at EAA AirVenture when a vendor asked her “What is going on with Georgia? And why do we need to save it?” Seems not everyone understands what “GA” means, and it’s not the first time someone has approached her with a similar comical, yet troublesome, question. Lucas, who is the co-founder of Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport and is the vice president of the California Pilots Association, spends her time explaining aviation to people from all walks of life. 

Jack OlcottJack Olcott, president of General Aero Co. and past president of the National Business Aviation Association, has his thumb on the pulse of business aviation. He provides a unique insider’s voice into the world of business aviation, not only as a leader who advocates for the industry domestically and internationally but also as a pilot who has more than 8,500 hours of flight time and type ratings in a Learjet, Citation I and II, Dassault Falcon 50/900, and Beech Model 300/1900. Olcott gets down to business in his first post, “Gravity challenges all who fly.”  

John PetersenJohn L. Petersen, a futurist, strategist, and pilot, admits he’s worried about the future of aviation and ponders whether we’ve already seen the beginning of the end of VFR flying as we know it. In “The next and biggest threat to GA (part 1),” Peterson takes a look at current trends with Customs and Border Protection searches and the latest National Security Agency news to spell out a grim future for VFR flying. The former aircraft-carrier-based naval aviator is also an aircraft builder and author of three books. He founded The Arlington Institute and is the chairman of the Lindbergh Foundation.

Dan PimentelDan Pimentel is a leader in the aviation social media realm. He’s been blogging as Av8rdan since 2005 and writes the Airplanista Aviation Blog.   He also leads Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design Inc. as president and art director. In “Pilots helping pilots, because that’s what families do,” the instrument-rated private pilot and Piper Cherokee 235 owner reflects on the close-knit aviation community that often functions more like a family.

Rod RakicRod Rakic is committed to making aviation work better. He’s the co-founder at OpenAirplane, which is dedicated to making flying safer and more useful. He’s a pioneer in creating interactive experiences for almost 20 years. Rod is a digital strategist, professional pilot, and a self-described user-experience nerd with a mission. Find out why he suggests new business models, not new business plans, and why he says, “Aviation as an industry has always been really good at building both products and services which nobody wants,” in his blog post, “There is a recipe for disruption.”

Ron RappRon Rapp,  a Southern California-based charter pilot, aerobatic CFI, and aircraft owner, has 6,500-plus hours encompassing everything from homebuilts to business jets. He’s written mile-long messages in the air as a Skytyper, crop-dusted with ex-military King Airs, flown across oceans in a Gulfstream IV, and tumbled through the air in his Pitts S-2B. He brings his voice as a professional pilot to the blog, sticking up for pilots who make their living in the skies. He sounds off in “It’s not personal, Sonny, it’s business” about the use of business jets.

Martin RottlerMartin Rottler is a lecturer at The Ohio State University Center for Aviation Studies in Columbus, Ohio. The commercial pilot and certificated flight instructor has worked in general aviation, the airline industry, and international aviation. As a pilot representing the Millennial Generation, Rottler is concerned about the future health of the industry with so few youth getting involved in aviation. In “Oshkosh 2033: Who will carry the torch?”, Rottler shares his concerns about the demographic makeup of attendees at EAA AirVenture.  (Rottler’s views do not represent those of The Ohio State University or the OSU Center for Aviation Studies.)

Max TrescottMax Trescott is a glass cockpit expert best known for his books on the Garmin G1000 and on instrument flying. The 2008 National CFI of the Year brings that expertise to the Opinion Leader blog with tips and approaches to improve your flying—if you agree with him. Find out why he advises, “No more ‘dive and drive’ instrument approaches.”