The AOPA Legal Services Plan, one of the best services AOPA offers exclusively to members, recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary. Yes, it offers legal help in the case of FAA enforcement actions, but it also does much more.
"The AOPA Legal Services Plan has always been a great value we offer our members," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But in these security-conscious times, it's really something no member should do without."
Even if a member never faces an enforcement action, the $26 annual enrollment cost is money well spent. Under the Legal Services Plan, members can have aircraft rental, leaseback, hangar, and tiedown agreements reviewed and get legal advice on an aircraft purchase or sale. With legal fees what they are today, the review alone will make back the cost of the plan.
And if a pilot does run into trouble, enrollment in the plan can take the financial sting out of defending against the allegations. Case in point: A pilot flying across western Maryland shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks violated the expanded P-40 prohibited area around Camp David. But working with one of the more than 600 attorneys nationwide that make up the plan's lawyers' panel, the pilot was able to demonstrate that he had taken all the necessary prudent steps to inform himself about all aspects of the flight, but that he had not been briefed about the temporary flight restriction. The FAA withdrew the case. Because the pilot was a member of the Legal Services Plan and his case was resolved prior to an appeal, all of his legal fees were covered.
"From AOPA's very beginning, our goal has been to keep flying fun and inexpensive," said Boyer. "The Legal Services Plan helps do both."