At a time when numerous U.S. cities are demanding temporary flight restrictions because of perceived threats from "small airplanes," and news organizations are adding to the hype, AOPA's efforts to balance the hype with the truth about general aviation is bearing fruit among the non-flying public. Visits to the GA Serving America are up substantially since AOPA began running television ads on the Weather Channel.
"If we want to see fewer security-related flight restrictions—if we want to reduce the unfounded fears that so many in the general public seem to have—then we've got to help those who do not fly understand general aviation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Preaching to the choir is not the best way to spread your message."
With the nation's interest in aviation rekindled by the recent centennial of the Wright brothers' first flight, AOPA's four 30-second commercials highlight GA's integral role in everyday American life. The ads offer a brief fact about general aviation, and direct viewers to the GA Serving America Web site to learn more.
In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, AOPA members contributed to a special fund that helped establish GA Serving America.
"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."
The ads will continue to run through January 4, 2004. They are expected to reach an estimated 32 million people by the time the two-week campaign is over.
"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.