The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, already the world's largest civil aviation organization, continued to make substantial gains in membership during 2002, ending the year with 390,749 members. That's an increase of 12,179 in a single year.
"Passing another 10,000-member milestone and achieving 390,749 provides a number that commands attention," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "As the new 108th Congress convenes and the country faces many issues that could impact general aviation pilots, aircraft, and airports, we're pleased to represent the many pilots who trust us to protect their interests.
"Whether we are in the halls of Congress, state legislatures, county councils, or city halls, politicians take particular note of the size of AOPA's constituency," Boyer continued. "The continued threat of terrorism or possible war, plus the new department of Homeland Security poised to embrace the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), creates many new challenges for general aviation. Representing such a large block of voters greatly assists the association in confronting the pending regulations and legislation during these troubled times."
Members recently proved how combined voices under the umbrella of AOPA can make a difference. AOPA members were urged to write the president and publisher of Time, Inc., to protest a negative ad in Time magazine that depicted an airport runway, two GA aircraft, and two cooling towers of a nuclear power plant. Within days of this campaign, Time, Inc., removed the ad from its media schedule.
"Growing membership sends a strong signal that general aviation is alive and well, in spite of these troubled political and economic times," said Boyer. "No one is looking forward more than I to the addition of our next 10,000 members when AOPA will become 400,000 strong."
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has represented the interests of general aviation pilots since 1939 through information, education, and advocacy. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation plays a vital role in keeping the GA accident rate down and providing safety education to all pilots. General aviation includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Some two thirds of the nation's pilots are AOPA members.