May 9, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
AOPA was out in full force at the Alaska Airmen’s Association’s fifteenth annual Great Alaskan Aviation Gathering May 4 and 5 despite unseasonably late snow and IFR conditions during the first day of the event.
Melissa Rudinger, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs, spoke about the ongoing impact of sequestration. She also provided an update on issues important to Alaska members, including protecting 100LL, the AOPA/Experimental Aircraft Association’s third class medical initiative, and the status of unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System. Lauren Otto, AOPA director of new market development, was on hand to answer membership questions. And AOPA Alaska Regional Manager Tom George held discussions with pilots on proposed changes to simplify the traffic advisory frequencies in the Mat Su Borough.
During the trip, Rudinger and George also held meetings with the FAA’s Alaska Regional Administrator and staff, the National Weather Service, and the Alaska Aviation Coordination Council, where they discussed AOPA concerns on issues unique to Alaska aviators.
Nearly 300 exhibitors had goods and products on display, along with an impressive display of aircraft, in and outside of the FedEx maintenance hangar at Anchorage International Airport. Two scenarios to change the radio frequencies were on display at the AOPA, Alaska Airmen’s Association, and two FAA booths during the show. Pilots were invited to view and comment on these proposals, so that an industry/government working group can finalize a recommendation and proceed to an implementation plan.
The highlight of the weekend was the drawing to give away the Alaska Airmen’s Association’s airplane. Phil Priebe, from Anchorage won a 2007 Aviat Husky on amphib floats and skis. Denzle Higgins of Fairbanks won a set of Alaska Bushwheels.
AOPA plans to be at the Valdez Fly-In and Air Show May 10 and 12, so stop by and visit staff during the event at the Valdez airport.
AOPA President Mark Baker flew four women and girls on two flights March 4 as part of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week activities designed to introduce more women and girls to aviation.
AOPA staff members updated attendees of the Montana Aviation Conference Feb. 27 through March 1 on the association's involvement in issues that affect pilots.
Pilots from Maine and New England turned out in numbers for the annual Maine Aviation Forum hosted by EAA Chapter 1434.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.