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Top execs present the future of AOPATop execs present the future of AOPA

Top execs present the future of AOPA

See a video of the general session.
Phil Boyer

AOPA President Phil Boyer kicked off AOPA Expo 2006's third and final general session, "The Future of AOPA," with a new membership record: 409,318. What does that mean to you? It means more clout on Capitol Hill and more leverage for keeping membership dues low.

When Boyer became AOPA president 15 years ago, he vowed to keep dues at $39. He's succeeded in that goal, but it didn't come without a huge infusion of creativity by AOPA staff.

As Expo entered its final day, the association's top executives provided a rundown of the latest programs and initiatives you can look forward to in the coming months such as a Web site overhaul, stronger airport advocacy, and accident forgiveness.

Media outreach

AOPA responds to hundreds of media stories a year, and members play a key role in alerting us to stories that may have cast general aviation in a bad light. "We leave no story unchallenged," said Jeff Myers, AOPA executive vice president of communications. AOPA responds with letters to the editor, rebuttal editorials, and advertisements.

When a major story breaks, media outlets may not have time to send a satellite TV truck to AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Maryland. After the Cory Lidle accident, for instance, AOPA used its small but effective in-house TV studio and satellite uplink to reach 20 million homes.

Share your passion

So far, the AOPA Project Pilot program has signed up more than 3,000 Mentors. While the results are encouraging, we need more. In 2007, the association will initiate a direct mail and magazine advertising campaign to encourage all pilots to share their passion for flight.

A new look

You've told us that you love the content of our 50,000-page Web site but have trouble finding it. In its first major overhaul, AOPA Online will have a crisp new design, set up for easier navigation. At the general session, Myers gave members a first look at the redesign, and it was met with a big applause.

Stronger airport advocacy

The AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers serve as an early warning system for airport issues. The program has seen a 20-percent increase in growth with volunteers now totaling 1,681, said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. A new board of advisors will help the association preserve and protect airports.

Cebula also highlighted recent airport wins in Oceanside, Bakersfield, and Santa Monica, California.

While 90 percent of the AOPA-supported federal candidates succeeded in Tuesday's election, there's also good news at the state level. Cebula noted that two AOPA members, Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia and Gov. Michael Rounds of South Dakota, were reelected.

Credit card rewards

Karen Gebhart, AOPA executive vice president of non-dues revenue, announced a new credit card rewards program from AOPA and Bank of America.

With the new WorldPoints rewards program, cardholders automatically earn points for every dollar they spend, with double rewards for aviation purchases. There's no limit on the number of points that card holders can earn, and the points can be redeemed for cash, travel, event tickets, and more with an easy-to-use online redemption system.

Accident forgiveness

The aircraft accident rate has improved by 71 percent over the past 40 years, going from 6,115 to 1,764 accidents. While the numbers are encouraging, there's plenty of work to do, said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Creating great new programs — which the foundation is actively doing — is one thing, giving pilots an incentive to take them is another. Enter the new AOPA Air Safety Foundation collaboration with AIG Aviation, Inc. Through this collaboration, AIG Aviation has developed an accident forgiveness and deductible reward program to support its client pilots' participation in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation program * .

It's a lot simpler than you might think. All you have to do is spend one or two hours every six months taking free online safety courses and live seminars offered through the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. The program is available on all owned and non-owned insurance policies underwritten by AIG Aviation and is applicable only to gliders and piston powered aircraft.

In the event of a claim, AIG Aviation's client pilots may be eligible for up to a $100 deductible reward, while those qualifying for accident forgiveness won't see an increase in the policy renewal premium as a result of an accident. Policyholders would need to send course certificates indicating completion within six months prior to the date of loss to qualify for accident forgiveness and deductible waiver.

For further details, see the related press release. - Nate Ferguson

*Accident forgiveness and deductible reward program may not be available in all states.

AIG Aviation, Inc. is a division of the property-casualty insurance subsidiaries of American International Group, Inc. (AIG). Insurance is underwritten by member companies of AIG, and is subject to underwriting review and approval. The description herein is a summary only. It does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for complete details of coverage and exclusions. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. Non-insurance products may be provided through independent third parties.

November 11, 2006

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