Incoming AOPA President Craig Fuller meets the press
General aviation reporters put the tough questions to incoming AOPA President Craig Fuller during a press conference Nov. 8, immediately following Expo’s third general session.
The burning issue was how Fuller would advocate for general aviation during the Obama administration because his White House background includes serving the Republican Reagan administration.
Fuller quickly set any fears to rest, explaining that the political world in Washington, D.C., is like a club. He has worked hand-in-hand with Republicans and Democrats to accomplish his goals, and he’s also worked with Rahm Emanuel, President-elect Barack Obama’s pick for chief of staff.
He reinforced an earlier statement that he made during the general session: “There’s nothing partisan about aviation or security or fuel or keeping airports open. Indeed we have great aviation supporters on both sides.”
Fuller, AOPA President Phil Boyer, and AOPA staff already have been working with the Obama transition team.
“We want to play a role right away—and we are—in this transition,” Fuller continued, later adding, “We’re not going to lose a minute in terms of being an advocate.”
While other issues, namely the economy, are taking a higher priority than aviation-related issues, Fuller said that AOPA wouldn’t be pushed to the sidelines. The association will comb through Obama’s proposed budget to see what GA funding issues could arise. Fuller also wants to see general aviation included in Obama’s plan to address infrastructure because economic stimulus packages can be attached to boost new projects and create jobs.
“We don’t want to be left out of that discussion,” he said.
Fuller emphasized that he wants to work together with other aviation associations to present a unified front on major issues that the industry could face in the future, including air traffic control modernization.
To that end, Fuller has met with EAA President Tom Poberezny, NBAA President Ed Bolen, and GAMA President Pete Bunce, to name a few. And, he’s previously worked in Washington, D.C., with James Coyne, president of the National Air Transportation Association.
As president of AOPA, Fuller also will become president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations. He pledged to work with the other 60-plus IAOPA member organizations to remove, or at least lessen, some of the burdens pilots face in Europe and around the world.