Let's say you are planning a flight from the lower 48 states to Alaska with a stop in Canada along the way. While in Canada you want to get specific information about GA operations in Canada. Who do you call? AOPA, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA), or the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA)? If you said COPA, you're right.
"Each of these organizations work to protect and advance general aviation within their respective areas, but they are separate entities and have jurisdictional restrictions," said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of aviation services. "AOPA and COPA come together with GA organizations from 60 other countries to form IAOPA, but they don't work hand in hand on everyday issues."
AOPA focuses on general aviation issues in the United States, COPA on Canadian issues, and IAOPA works with other AOPA affiliate countries on international issues. Each independent association supports, represents, and advocates for GA aircraft owners and pilots in its individual country.
"AOPA can share strategies and ideas with other countries through IAOPA, but advocacy efforts have to be initiated by other countries," Cahall said. "Otherwise, it would be like another country coming to the United States and telling us how to operate general aviation in our own country."
If you read about an issue affecting general aviation in another country and want to know more, you should contact the appropriate country's IAOPA affiliate, which you can find on IAOPA's Web site. Unlike AOPA and COPA, most of the other IAOPA affiliates do not have a full-time staff. So, it's best to communicate with them sooner rather than later in order to get any information you might be in search of prior to visiting their country.
Of course, if you have any questions, contact AOPA's Pilot Information Center weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672) or via e-mail.
December 22, 2005