K ISSIMMEE, F LA.—The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association on Friday, August 8, 2008, made good on a promise to the Civil Air Patrol—the civilian auxiliary to the U.S. Air Force. AOPA donated $5,000 to CAP as a “thank you” for the group’s assistance in letting pilots know about airspace challenges related to AOPA’s annual Fly-In and Open House.
During the first week of June, AOPA had a problem. President George W. Bush decided to go to Camp David on the same weekend that the Fly-In was to be held, prompting the FAA to expand prohibited and restricted airspace over the presidential retreat. How could AOPA reach out to all pilots planning on coming and let them know about the temporary flight restriction? With so little time to get the word out, AOPA leaders knew they needed to go beyond the association’s own extensive communications outlets.
AOPA contacted CAP National Headquarters and asked that squadrons throughout CAP’s Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Great Lakes regions—the areas from which pilots were most likely to come—station members at the squadrons’ home airports on Saturday morning to make sure pilots were aware of the expanded airspace restrictions in the Washington, D.C., area.
“We challenged pilots coming to the Fly-In to show the FAA and the security folks just how conscientious pilots really are,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “We said if they delivered on that challenge—no incursion violations—we’d donate $5,000 to the Civil Air Patrol to thank them for their assistance in this effort. This is money I’m glad to give away.”
Pilots rose to the challenge. There were no incursion violations related to the AOPA Fly-In and Open House.
“This was a great opportunity to assist an important CAP partner,” said Brig. Gen. Amy S. Courter, CAP interim national commander. “As an organization consisting of many pilots, both retired military and general aviation enthusiasts, we are proud to have done our part to ensure smooth flying for AOPA and its members.”
The Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 56,000 members nationwide. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief, and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state, and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the nearly 22,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 66 years.
The more than 415,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has represented the interests of general aviation pilots since 1939. General aviation includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Seventy percent of all U.S. pilots, and three quarters of the general aviation pilots, are AOPA members.