September 24, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins’ recent advocacy effort at Massachusetts’ Chatham Regional Airport is a great example of how AOPA serves members across the country.
Collins worked with general aviation advocates and Airport Support Network volunteer Bob Valcourt in Massachusetts to weigh in Sept. 19 at a public meeting in Chatham, Mass., to discuss opposition to a local skydiving operation. “The goal of attending these types of events is to remain engaged on members’ behalf to prevent an isolated issue from morphing into something that would have a greater impact on the general aviation community,” he said.
The initial complaint was about noise, but turned into a conversation about safety-of-flight issues for the local skydiving operation. “As residents struggle to believe their concerns are being taken seriously, the opportunity for the airport to fall under broader scrutiny is always a possibility,” said Collins.
Those speaking at the public meeting included AOPA, representatives from the FAA, Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Parachute Association.
“While we attend these events, as our schedules permit, to represent the broader interests of our members and the pilot community, we also seek to serve as a resource for the nonflying public. Our organization espouses being good neighbors, which means demonstrating our willingness to sit at the community table and share in that conversation by acknowledging their concerns,” said Collins. “Once we gain their respect as stewards of the pilot community, they will look to us for guidance on future issues.”
The next discussion on the skydiving operation issue will be Oct. 8 before the town council.
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
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