When Mooney brought in CEO Gretchen Jahn late last year, the company got more than an experienced leader with manufacturing know-how - it also got a passionate GA pilot. And during a visit to the company's Kerrville, Texas, factory on Thursday, AOPA President Phil Boyer got a first-hand look at how that combination of passion and business acumen is transforming the airframe manufacturer.
Boyer, who was in Texas to host a Pilot Town Meeting for San Antonio-area pilots, toured the Mooney factory with Jahn and found new manufacturing equipment, enthusiastic employees who have recently added a second shift, updated production techniques, and a new customer delivery center, where he was able to see an AOPA member get the red-carpet treatment as he took delivery of a new Mooney.
"The company is in very good hands," Boyer told the San Antonio Pilot Town Meeting audience after his factory visit. "I'm impressed with Jahn's passion for general aviation, the strength of her leadership and experience, and what she's accomplished in a relatively short time."
But Jahn, who flies a new Mooney equipped with a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit, isn't resting on her laurels. She plans for further investments in the company and its airplanes, including more new equipment.
Boyer's Texas stop followed a two-day visit to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach, Florida, campus, where he hosted another Pilot Town Meeting, spoke to faculty about general aviation careers, gave a handful of lucky students their first jet time, and addressed two classes, including one focusing on legislative affairs - an area in which Boyer and AOPA have extensive experience.
"Aviation is a vibrant field, with career opportunities that extend far beyond the typical airline path to include working in legislative affairs, managing an airport, working in air traffic control, or even running an aviation association," Boyer told faculty members.
At the Pilot Town Meeting, attended by some 300 students and faculty, Boyer presented a $25,000 check to Dr. Tim Brady, dean of the university's College of Aviation, for the school's Career Pathways Scholarship fund. The check, part of AOPA's partnership with the university, represents 10 percent of the membership dues paid by the more than 5,000 Embry-Riddle graduates who are AOPA members.
Boyer also had the pleasure of giving five students selected for their academic and leadership skills their first opportunity to sit at the controls of a jet, with special flights in AOPA's Cessna Citation.
All current Embry-Riddle students enrolled in the aeronautical sciences program also are AOPA members. They receive AOPA Flight Training magazine during their first year and AOPA Pilot magazine after that, as well has benefiting from AOPA's tremendous array of services and information.
A third Pilot Town Meeting scheduled for New Orleans was canceled as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
September 16, 2005