Open letter from Mark Baker

January 27, 2014

AOPA announces regional fly-ins and AOPA Homecoming in Frederick, Md.In the past few weeks, I’ve heard from some AOPA members who told me they are disappointed and frustrated by AOPA’s decision to hold our Frederick Homecoming event on Oct. 4, the same date as Yom Kippur.

I want to apologize to all of our Jewish members and to anyone who is disappointed or offended by this choice of date. I have heard your concerns and can promise we will consider the timing of important religious and cultural events as we schedule future fly-ins.

The AOPA Fly-Ins are part of a new vision for your association—a vision that involves deeper engagement with pilots all around the country. Planning these seven events has been a learning experience and a challenge. Scheduling each event involved bringing together many factors both within and beyond our control, including airport availability, weather patterns, other aviation events, each city’s preferences and obligations, and our own capacity to execute each fly-in.

In planning the Frederick, Md., event, we had an extremely narrow window in which we could find space in the city of Frederick’s calendar, anticipate reasonable weather, avoid conflicts with the nearby Leesburg, Va., airshow, and commit the resources needed to host this event. We know that our choice of Oct. 4 is profoundly disappointing to our Jewish members, and we apologize for failing to recognize that possibility before committing to the date.

We also understand that for some individuals Sabbath requirements make it impossible to attend any fly-in event held on a Saturday, as most one-day aviation gatherings are. For those who are able to take part, we hope you’ll join us at one of our other six fly-ins, three of which will be held in the eastern half of the country—Indianapolis on May 31; Plymouth, Mass., on July 12; and St. Simons, Ga., on Nov. 8. We know that these events may be farther from home for some of you, but we hope it will be worth the extra effort to join us.

AOPA is pleased to serve the aviation needs of members from many faith traditions. We have learned from our error and in the future we will be more attentive to holidays beyond those observed by the federal government.

In the meantime, please accept both my apology and my thanks for your support of AOPA and our shared goal of protecting the freedom to fly.