Summit keynotes to spotlight aviation experts

Speakers include new AOPA CEO Mark Baker

September 5, 2013

Editor's Note: Due to a scheduling change, NTSB Board Member Earl Weener will now be speaking during the Oct. 11 keynote portion of the AOPA Aviation Summit 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas in place of Board Member Christopher Hart.

AOPA President Mark Baker

This year’s AOPA Aviation Summit keynote sessions will include important conversations with leading aviation experts and officials, including new AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker offering his vision on the future of the association, Dr. Jonathan Sackier addressing pilot medical issues, and officials from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) offering updates about the national airspace system and best safety practices.

The Summit, in Fort Worth, Texas, will kick off on Thursday, Oct. 10 with a keynote speech from Baker. An aircraft owner and an AOPA member since 1987, Baker brings to AOPA a true passion for general aviation and a deep involvement in the GA community. He enjoys flying everything from light seaplanes to turbine aircraft, but his favorite airplane continues to be his Piper Super Cub on floats. His opening keynote will give attendees an opportunity to get to know him and learn about his vision for AOPA and thoughts on the future of general aviation.

Retired Marine 1st Lt. Andrew Kinard was selected as the first recipient of the new AOPA/Able Flight Scholarship award, designed to offer flight training opportunities for people with physical disabilities. Kinard lost both legs above the knee due to an improvised explosive device while in active duty service.

Against all odds, Kinard completed flight training this summer and is a newly minted FAA certificated sport pilot. Later this year he will also graduate from Harvard with dual degrees in business and law, and AOPA is honored to have him at Summit to recognize his great accomplishment.

On Friday, Oct. 11, members will participate in keynotes using a fast-paced conversational format. Major League Baseball all-star and GA pilot Ken Griffey Jr. will kick things off by discussing his love of flying and how he uses his Cirrus for personal travel and business.

The makers of Disney’s Planes will give members the inside scoop on the making of an animated story of an airplane who wants to prove he can be more than he was built for, right down to the inside gestures and accurate details in the film.

FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whittaker will discuss his thoughts and perspectives on the issues of greatest concern to the industry and talk about challenges should the agency face another round of budget cuts. Dr. Jonathan Sackier, a trained surgeon and medical counsel for AOPA, will present challenging thoughts about flight medicals.

And NTSB Board Member Earl Weener will discuss the NTSB’s efforts to improve general aviation safety. Due to a scheduling change, Weener be speaking during the Oct. 11 keynote in place of Board Member Christopher Hart.

On Saturday, Oct. 12, AOPA will hold a special “Pilots, Planes, and Pancakes” breakfast at the Fort Worth Meacham International Airport. The event will include a dynamic Pilot Town Hall exploring the critical efforts AOPA is engaging in on members’ behalf. Baker will be joined by AOPA staff leads from government affairs, the AOPA Foundation, and the Center to Advance the Pilot Community. Attendees will enjoy an opportunity to ask questions of the staff following the presentation. Tickets for this event are $25 at the door.

After the town hall, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), co-chair of the House General Aviation Caucus, and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) will join AOPA’s president on stage for a lively discussion on happenings inside the beltway.