The Ninety-Nines, the world's premier women's aviation group, has honored the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association with the Ninety-Nines Award of Merit. The award, presented during the Ninety-Nines international conference last week in Kansas City, Missouri, recognizes the association's work on behalf of general aviation since September 11, 2001.
Speaking to the banquet guests in a videotaped message, AOPA President Phil Boyer thanked the Ninety-Nines for the high honor. "Because of your support of the organization over these many years, we had the infrastructure in place...to do exactly what you're giving us the award for doing. Those resources were all deployed against the problems we faced post-9/11. I wish to thank you on behalf of all of our employees who work so hard, for giving us this Award of Merit."
In its letter nominating AOPA, the Mid-Atlantic Section of the Ninety-Nines noted the thousands of overtime hours AOPA staff members put in during the weeks following the terrorist attacks. "[T]he organization's work since September 11 has been nothing short of heroic. When the nation's airspace was shut down and general aviation was being unfairly targeted for restrictions, AOPA was a visible and vocal presence in Washington diligently working with the Secretary of Transportation and the FAA Administrator to restore our ability to fly."
The letter also points out that AOPA established a desk at the FAA's airspace division to provide pilots with the most up-to-the-minute information on airspace changes and worked ceaselessly to free the "GA 41,000"—pilots who were stranded in enhanced Class B airspace for weeks after the attacks.
The nominating letter also noted AOPA's ongoing mission to protect and represent general aviation on issues ranging from airspace restrictions to airport closures to fuel tax hikes. The letter concludes, "While we don't know what the future will bring, we do know that AOPA will be doing what it has always done—preserving our freedom to fly."
With some 385,000 members, AOPA is the world's largest civil aviation organization, working to protect the interests of general aviation. Nearly two thirds of all U.S. pilots are members of AOPA.