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AOPA president addresses pilots at Fly-InAOPA president addresses pilots at Fly-In

AOPA president addresses pilots at Fly-In

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AOPA President Phil Boyer (left)
introduces Erik Lindbergh to the audience.
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AOPA President Phil Boyer on Saturday formally unveiled the enhanced AOPA Project Pilot program at the AOPA Fly-In and Open House.

More than 250 people packed the tent during the Q-and-A session to hear how the association is calling on its greatest asset - its members - to share the passion and increase the number of new pilots in the aviation community. "If we don't, who will?" he asked.

Boyer pointed out that the average reader of AOPA Flight Training magazine is 43 years old. Something, therefore, needs to be done to shatter misconceptions and reach the people who've always wanted to fly but, for whatever reason, never got around to it.

Project Pilot national spokesman Erik Lindbergh also was introduced. Lindbergh pointed out how America is known for its personal freedom, and flying an airplane is a perfect reflection of that. "If we lose that, we'll lose the greatest freedom we've ever had," he said.

Pilots who fly in the Washington, D.C., area were concerned about flight restrictions and the future of the air defense identification zone (ADIZ). Boyer thanked members for submitting more than 21,000 comments on the FAA's proposal to make the ADIZ permanent. While Boyer didn't want to speculate on the outcome of the proposed rulemaking, he did say that he thinks there "will be a change for the better" and that it will most likely be a phased-in approach.

Boyer pointed out how AOPA has been working behind the scenes with the legislative side of the government rather than focusing on the regulatory side, because members of Congress control funding. AOPA has many friends on Capitol Hill, and by controlling funding, you can alter the political landscape. But when the Capitol has to be evacuated because of an airspace incursion, Boyer pointed out that it makes dealing with Congress difficult.

"Not one [incursion] has been tied to any sort of terrorist activity," Boyer said.

Many dignitaries attended the session, including FAA Associate Administrator for Regulation and Certification Nicholas Sabatini. Dressed in jeans and a casual shirt, Sabatini was at the event as an avid general aviation pilot.

Members also asked about user fees, airport preservation, advanced technology such as ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast), and the flight service system transition to Lockheed Martin. AOPA staff was on hand to answer questions in detail after the session.

June 3, 2006

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