With the Wright brothers now at the forefront of the public's attention, AOPA will again reach out to explain the benefits of general aviation to the general public. Starting on December 22, AOPA will sponsor a series of television ads on the Weather Channel to tell the public about the benefits general aviation brings to their lives and to promote the association's educational Web site, General Aviation Serving America.
"Since the tragedy of the September 11 terrorist attacks, nothing has been more apparent than the lack of understanding on the part of the general public of who and what GA is and does," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "All of us need to keep working to ensure the future of general aviation. But too often we find ourselves talking to ourselves about all the advantages of GA."
Last year, AOPA members supported the creation of the world-class Web site, GAservingAmerica.org, to educate the general public, including federal, state, and local government decision makers, to all that general aviation does for this country.
"But a Web site is only as effective as the number of people drawn to use it," said Boyer. "So this holiday season, AOPA will once again reach out to the non-flying public on The Weather Channel. Viewers will see four different 30-second television commercials explaining general aviation and directing the viewers to the GA Serving America Web site to learn more."
The commercials will air more than 100 times between December 22 and January 4, during the busy holiday travel season when many Americans—not just pilots—are keeping a close eye on the weather for their own, or family and friends, personal car, train, bus, or airline travel.
The commercials are expected to reach more than 32 million viewers.
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.
"Whether they ever learn to fly or not, the more members of the general public who take the time to learn something about GA, the better it is for all of us—pilot and non-pilot alike," said Boyer.
The more than 400,000-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. Nearly two thirds of all U.S. pilots, and three quarters of the GA pilots, are AOPA members.