The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is taking to the airwaves to educate the non-flying public about the benefits of general aviation, benefits many people might never have considered before.
"General aviation has never been well understood by the public at large," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But in the climate of fear that followed the September 11th terrorist attacks, it became imperative for us to dispel the myths and misunderstandings. So with donations from AOPA members, we created GAservingAmerica.org, a Web site specifically for the news media, political leaders, and the general public."
Beginning Monday, December 23, and continuing through the holidays, AOPA will run a "flight" of ads on The Weather Channel. The 30-second commercials will be viewed in some 24 million households across the United States. The ads will show viewers an interesting fact about general aviation and direct them to www.GAservingAmerica.org to learn even more. A similar print advertising campaign in major newspapers during September caused a significant increase in the number of visits to GAservingAmerica.org.
"By running this campaign on The Weather Channel during the busy holiday travel season," said Boyer, "we will reach a lot of folks as they watch for the forecast at their destinations. These are people who might otherwise never give GA a second thought."
While GAservingAmerica.org is aimed primarily at nonpilots, it's also useful to pilots to help them explain general aviation and the critical role it plays, both in the community and in the national economy, to their friends, neighbors, and civic leaders.
"It is important that the public understand what general aviation is, how it works, and what it does for all Americans," Boyer said. "What we convey in these ads and with this Web site is that general aviation is woven into the fabric of American life."
Without general aviation, the quality of life in America would be vastly reduced. Crop yields from our farms would drop by 50 percent. There would be no overnight shipment of packages. Business and industry would lose their competitive edge in world markets. Lives would be lost without emergency life flights. Airline cockpits would be empty. And 145 million people a year would have no practical way to reach their travel destinations.
"When presented with the facts, we believe that citizens and government leaders can make better informed, sound decisions regarding general aviation and the infrastructure that supports it," Boyer said. "After visiting the Web site, they will also have a greater appreciation for their local community airports that serve the needs of individuals, government, and businesses alike."
The GA Serving America Web site and initial advertising campaign was funded by donations from AOPA members to the General Aviation Restoration Fund, established after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The 389,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has been representing the interests of general aviation pilots since 1939. General aviation includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Some two thirds of the nation's pilots, and three quarters of the aircraft owners, are AOPA members.