Membership in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is now over 360,000, an all-time record and up more than 60,000 from some 300,000 in 1990.
More than 110,000 members have been added since AOPA membership broke the quarter-million mark in 1985.
"AOPA has worked hard to continue to build the pilots' association for the 1990s and the twenty-first century," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
"We're pleased our efforts have been recognized by a majority of the pilot community who are now AOPA members."
In addition to its traditional and aggressive role as "The Voice of General Aviation" with federal and state agencies, the U.S. Congress, and state and local government, AOPA has reemphasized on-demand member information services, member education, and the defense of general aviation and its airports.
AOPA's advocacy of new technologies for age-old problems has put it at the forefront as general aviation's representative on national technical and policy issues. The AOPA president has been nominated by President Clinton to serve on the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration.
The association's 1990 report to Congress on GPS for civilian aviation was a clarion call for the navigation revolution of today. The international IAOPA organization is general aviation's spokesman at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the United Nations.
The association has made major investments in technology and staff to serve members better. New computerization and call-handling facilities serve more than 300,000 inquiries annually to AOPA aviation services and AOPA member services. Nearly 50 staff members are dedicated solely to immediate response to technical questions and membership benefit inquiries.
A total staff of 225 serves members and their interests from AOPA's on-airport headquarters 50 miles outside Washington, D.C., at its legislative and legal office in downtown Washington, its facilities near the FAA pilot and aircraft registry in Oklahoma City, and its insurance staff in Wichita, Kansas.
Some 110,000 AOPA members read up-to-date industry news weekly from ePilot, AOPA's electronic newsletter. More than 170,000 members are registered to use the extensive members-only features of the award-winning AOPA Online Web site.
The robustness of AOPA Online means members now usually rely on it for immediate technical data and databases, rather than printed publications or faxes. Also available free to members are weather briefing, flight planning, and aircraft buyer and seller services like AOPA's Aircraft Valuation Services by Vref.
AOPA members using an AOPA Visa or MasterCard get a 3 percent rebate for all aviation purchases (aircraft rental, maintenance, fuel, and pilot supplies) at eligible FBOs that rent airplanes or sell fuel. Many participants get back three to eight times their annual $39 dues each year.
AOPA's commitment to members also includes as many as 30 "town meetings" around the nation each year, with some 211 AOPA Pilot Town Meetings having hosted more than 41,000 pilots since 1992 alone. In all, the AOPA president has appeared before nearly 100,000 aviators and aviation supporters during the decade. AOPA surveys members weekly on the issues of the day.
The association defends airports and their users from unreasonable governmental action, community opposition, and lax FAA enforcement of trust fund grant obligations. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers now monitor nearly 800 threatened airports nationwide. Twelve paid AOPA regional representatives locally monitor and act on regional and state affairs.
AOPA takes the lead in representing general aviation with the media, especially in times of crisis, handling some 2,000 media calls a year.
Nearly 80,000 AOPA members, student pilots, and prospects work together through the AOPA Project Pilot mentoring program to bolster aviation's ranks. Thousands of AOPA-member flight instructors and tens of thousands of students rely on AOPA Flight Training magazine for guidance in teaching and learning flying.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation, dedicated to general aviation safety research and continuing pilot education, hosts over 30,000 pilots annually at professional evening and weekend safety seminars. Another 50,000 receive free or low-cost home videos, publications, and type-specific aircraft safety reviews. ASF conducts revalidation training for one quarter of the nation's flight instructors renewing their certificates each year.
"We see our record membership as a vote of confidence," said AOPA President Boyer, "but we take it only as a challenge to continue building AOPA."
Despite a substantial increase in staff, capabilities, and services, AOPA's $39 annual dues—which include AOPA Pilot magazine, AOPA's Airport Directory, and a basic level of aviation AD&D accident insurance, have not increased since 1990.
May 11, 2000