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Airport Watch program gains momentumAirport Watch program gains momentum

<BR><SPAN class=twodeck>Boyer briefs state aviation officials; airport VP testifies at New Jersey Assembly</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=twodeck>Boyer briefs state aviation officials; airport VP testifies at New Jersey Assembly</SPAN>

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AOPA President Phil Boyer (left) and John "Mike" Rice, New Mexico aviation division director

AOPA's Airport Watch program gained wider coverage following a presentation by association president Phil Boyer to state aviation leaders at the Washington Conference of the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) in Washington, D.C. The association is an organization of individuals in all 50 state governments and territories that deal with aviation matters.

Boyer showed segments of the videos from the program and urged the state officials to assist all general aviation airports in their states to make maximum use of all resources to maintain tight security at their locations.

"Security is a way of life for everyone now," Boyer told the state leaders led by John "Mike" Rice, director of the aviation division of New Mexico, current chair of NASAO. "It is essential that those of us in aviation be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem," Boyer continued.

Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs, joined Boyer in the session with state directors.

State officials can be extremely helpful in advancing an awareness program to local airport managers and pilots to keep alert and demonstrate the dedication of general aviation to the nation's security, Boyer said. Commenting about how state aviation directors work so closely with general aviation airports, he told the group that their participation would help assure advancement of the watch activities vital to security.

The AOPA Airport Watch program was launched less than two weeks ago, and kits of materials are being disseminated to airports throughout the country. Kits of the program were given to each state or territory representative.

New Jersey Assembly invites AOPA to explain program

Invited to appear as a witness before the transportation committee of the New Jersey State Assembly, AOPA Vice President of Airports Anne Esposito showed how the Airport Watch program is contributing to security and responded to a series of questions, which indicated the lawmakers' strong interest in AOPA's initiative.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Dist. 19), chair of the committee, asked for the presentation because of his interest in how AOPA and the Transportation Security Administration were working together.

Following Esposito's presentation and her response to questions, several members of the committee declared their interest in ensuring New Jersey airports participate in the program. Chairman Wisneiski termed the program "an important part of our national security."

Esposito expects to return at a later date to make a similar appearance before the Senate Law and Public Safety and Veterans Committee.

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