AOPA President Phil Boyer presents at Aviation Trail’s annual First Flight Anniversary dinner.
It was particularly fitting that Phil Boyer’s final public presentation as AOPA president was on the anniversary of the Wright Brothers first powered flight—Dec. 17—before an audience in their home town, Dayton, Ohio.
“The Wright Brothers were the first general aviation pilots and innovators,” said Boyer, “and even today, aviation advances frequently come through GA first.”
Boyer was the keynote speaker at Aviation Trail Inc.’s annual First Flight Anniversary dinner in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. He received an “Orville Wright Honorary Aircraft Pilot Certificate Number 1.”
Boyer received an “Orville Wright Honorary Aircraft Pilot Certificate Number 1”
Speaking at the event, Boyer traced the history of general aviation, which really started coming into its own in the 1930s, with the advent of enclosed cabins that made air travel practical and comfortable for business people, and the Piper J3, that made GA aircraft affordable.
“While the advancement in GA airframes and engines has been evolutionary since World War II, the changes in avionics have been revolutionary,” said Boyer. “GA was the first to embrace area navigation with loran, and then GPS. And the advancements in moving maps, graphic weather data in the cockpit, even electronic ‘flight bags,’ all came out of general aviation first.”
Boyer noted that “conventional wisdom” laughed at AOPA in the early 1990s for advocating GPS and a transition to satellite-based navigation. “Today it’s the back-bone of the NextGen air traffic control system and so ubiquitous that just about every American uses GPS in one way or another.”
Boyer tours the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
He acknowledged that like the rest of the economy, GA was going through difficult times today. But said that GA is just too valuable to the nation to disappear, and just as GA has weathered previous economic downturns, it will do so again. “But we—both organizations like AOPA and you individual pilots—have an obligation and a duty to do everything possible to make GA thrive.”
He described the association’s new AOPA Foundation and the Campaign for General Aviation, with the goals of increasing the pilot population, enhancing the public image of general aviation, preserving community airports, and improving aviation safety.
Boyer said that the AOPA Board of Trustees, in selecting Craig Fuller to succeed him, have found a leader that “I think can take AOPA and GA to even greater prominence in our national life.
“And I am most honored to return to the ranks of AOPA members. I will be cheering on AOPA from the back seat of my Waco and enjoying flying the way our members do.”