The first ads promoting AOPA's new Web site General Aviation Serving America appeared across the nation today in publications such as USA Today, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. And AOPA members are already using the information to educate the media and others about the significance of GA in American life.
John R. Williams ( AOPA 1341951) recently heard a well-known Cincinnati TV reporter make a statement about "novice" pilots flying small airplanes. He quickly fired off an e-mail to the reporter, saying, "I was concerned that your statements would misinform the public and reinforce irrational fears that many people have about small airplanes. As a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) I invite you to view the new web site 'General Aviation Serving America' at www.gaservingamerica.org.
"This site was created by AOPA in response to the unjustified grounding and restrictions on general aviation following the Sept. 11 attacks. AOPA would like everyone in the media to be well informed on the value and safety in general aviation. Many of the small airplanes you see overhead are flown by flight instructors, retired airline pilots, or private pilots with hundreds of hours of experience—far from being novices. Please visit the new web site or the public AOPA home page at www.aopa.org for more information."
The reporter acknowledged his error and apologized.
"This is a perfect example of how individual members can make a huge difference," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "And believe it or not, local media people usually appreciate hearing from their audience. They don't want to make mistakes; they just don't always have the right information."
Said John Williams, "I occasionally hear radio talk show hosts or TV newscasters make incorrect or misleading statements about general aviation and I have often wanted to do something about it, but I am not prepared to speak as an expert on GA. I used the new Web site to speak for me."
Most newspapers and TV and radio stations list e-mail addresses on a Web site. And Williams offers some excellent advice. "Be friendly and polite when sending e-mail," he said. "Everyone should think of pilots and the skies as friendly."