More than 76,000 pilots and flight instructors received safety information from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation in 2000, a new record that coincided with ASF's fiftieth anniversary. And preliminary figures showed general aviation accidents continued to decline during the year, setting a new record low.
At the same time, fresh giving campaigns helped ASF raise $1,472,000, improving both the quantity and quality of GA safety programs. A new "Partnering with Corporate America" campaign was inaugurated in 2000, and silver, gold, and platinum levels were established for Life Hat members of the Hat-in-the-Ring Society.
"The high level of ASF activity in 2000 made it a worthy fiftieth anniversary year," said Bruce Landsberg, ASF executive director. "But it was the commitment of pilots to GA safety and ASF's work that made these accomplishments possible."
Traditional ASF safety seminars in 2000 drew 33,161 pilots, an increase of more than 650 over 1999. ASF Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics helped 7,538 certificated flight instructors refresh their aviation knowledge, with many revalidating their FAA teaching certificate at the clinics. FIRC attendance was up nearly 5 percent from the year before.
Another 5,800 pilots took advantage of ASF's "Seminar in a Box," which offers nine of ASF's most popular safety seminars in a do-it-yourself format, with videos, slides, and printed materials shipped to pilots for whom attendance at a live ASF seminar is impossible or inconvenient.
But the most innovative ASF safety outreach was "Project V" (for Video), which by mid-January had delivered one of two original ASF safety videos to some 30,000 pilots across the country. The free distribution was funded by a grant from AOPA. The two videos, based on previous ASF research, addressed the main concerns of two groups: new private pilots and newly rated instrument pilots.
The video Lost and Crossed was sent to pilots who had recently passed their FAA private pilot checkride and addressed the common fears of getting lost and getting "crossed up" in crosswinds. Weather Decision Making went to freshly rated instrument pilots, who often feel unsure about their ability to find and use weather information.
A second AOPA grant of $150,000 to ASF in October 2000 is funding a second round of distribution for the two videos this month.
Revived for a full-year schedule in 2000 was the ASF "Pinch-Hitter" ground school, with attendance tripled over the previous year. More than 240 flying companions were helped to feel comfortable with aviation and equipped with knowledge of how to safely land an airplane in the case of pilot incapacitation.
ASF plans to double the number of Pinch-Hitter ground school courses for 2001.
During 2000, the foundation continued adapting technology to keep both safety seminars and Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics fresh and fast-paced. Among other things, computer-aided presentation graphics on new multimedia projectors, video clips, and interactive quizzes have replaced the old 35mm slide format.
Use of World Wide Web information in ASF seminars increased dramatically during 2000, particularly in Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics. ASF presenters at FIRCs now routinely include projected Web pages (sometimes live) showing resources available to CFIs for improving flight instruction. Each instructor attending an ASF FIRC also receives a hard-copy listing of World Wide Web URLs useful in their instructing.
At selected seminars, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 is now used for a large-screen projection of a stall demonstration in a Cessna 182. The graphic sequence helps instructors grasp the ease of using relatively low-cost technology for basic flight instruction.
A new corporate giving program unveiled in 2000 added resources for an entire new line of ASF aircraft-specific safety reviews.
Corporate giving campaign leader United States Aircraft Insurance Group sponsored the new reviews, which provide targeted safety information pamphlets on Cessna 172s, Cessna 182s, and the Piper PA-28 series. Funding from both the Cessna Aircraft Company and the New Piper Aircraft Company helped ensure distribution to all registered owners of the specific types.
Grants from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Air Transport Association, and Ryan International funded a major new ASF seminar on avoiding midair collisions, which debuted at AOPA Expo 2000 in Long Beach, California, in October. The timing was fortuitous; the introduction came just as statistics were starting to show a slight increase in GA midair collisions. The program will be seen by tens of thousands of active pilots in 2001, and a companion Safety Advisor booklet will reach thousands more in both print and electronic versions.
Contributions from corporate sponsors, as well as donations from individual pilots again allowed publication of ASF's widely acclaimed Nall Report. The annual report, each year's first analysis of GA accidents, is dedicated to the memory of former NTSB board member Joseph Nall, who died as a passenger in an airplane accident in South America in 1989. It has become a standard reference for the media when a high-profile GA accident occurs and is used regularly by the FAA, NASA, NTSB, and academic institutions.
Supplementing other safety efforts, airport taxi diagrams were added to ASF's Web site. Financial and logistic help from the FAA's Runway Safety Program Office and Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc., made possible the online diagrams for more than 330 of the nation's busiest towered airports. The detailed diagrams are a valuable aid in minimizing runway incursions.
The Corporate Matching Gifts program was instituted in 2000 and immediately attracted support from a number of companies nationwide that wished to support general aviation safety. The corporate programs match, double, or even triple gifts of other ASF donors, dramatically increasing the effectiveness of fund-raising efforts.
ASF fund development programs grew vigorously in 2000, and individual donations rose sharply.
The Hat-in-the-Ring Society, an elite group of those making an annual gift of at least $1,000 toward ASF safety programs, was expanded by the addition of three new tiers of Life Hat membership: Platinum Life Hat for donors of $100,000; Gold Life Hat for those contributing $75,000; and Silver Life Hat for donors of $50,000. Life Hat members are those contributing a minimum of $25,000 to the ASF endowment.
Also showing substantial growth in 2000 was the ASF Life Associate Program, which recognizes those who make a $2,500 endowment gift that generates ongoing annual income for ASF safety programs. Among other benefits of the Life Associate Program is lifetime payment of AOPA membership dues.
A new Aviators Memorial Endowment Fund was established in 2000, allowing family and friends to honor a deceased pilot's love of general aviation with commemorative gifts. Some 24 pilots were so memorialized in 2000. And non-cash "gifts in kind" from both individuals and companies allowed significant improvements or additions to ASF programs during the year.
Changes in the ASF Board of Visitors in 2000 included the passing of respected board member and former Dallas football coach Tom Landry and the appointment of Carl Vogt, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.
Aviation-theme ASF holiday greeting cards were popular again in 2000, with 20 different cards featuring popular general aviation scenes ranging from a Piper J-3 Cub on skis to a Twin Otter in a dreamy winter landscape. New for 2000 was a helicopter design card.
The cards, all printed on high-quality recycled paper with vegetable-based inks, sold more than 37,000 boxes over the 2000 year-end holidays.
Also popular near the end of the year was the ASF aviation calendar, which once again featured dazzling photos of general aviation aircraft. Included with each calendar were small stickers to help pilots and aircraft owners remember important dates, such as medical certificate renewal or ELT battery changes.
The calendar was mailed free to all donors to ASF, and a random selection of AOPA members, and resulted in donations of some $200,000.
In celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation unveiled a newly designed exhibition display at AOPA Expo 2000 in Long Beach, California, in October. Larger spaces with a totally new look enabled the foundation to show the variety of new program offerings to the thousands of AOPA members and other pilots who attended Expo. A walk-through display highlighted ASF's 50 years of service to the general aviation community, in panels spotlighting foundation milestones of the past five decades.
Expo visitors also took advantage of the opportunity to speak with ASF staff members about the range of philanthropic opportunities that support foundation programs.
"Some organizations slow down when they hit 50," declared ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "The AOPA Air Safety Foundation is speeding up, reaching more pilots with more information than ever before.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation was chartered in 1950 to improve general aviation safety through education and research. It includes the world's largest non-governmental GA accident database, used to help develop on-target safety education for GA pilots. ASF is funded largely though contributions from individual pilots.