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Former DHS official Craig Spence joins AOPA as association's first-ever VP of aviation securityFormer DHS official Craig Spence joins AOPA as association's first-ever VP of aviation security

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is bringing general aviation sensibility together with security saavy, with the hiring of Craig Spence to fill the newly created position of vice president of aviation security. Spence is a longtime general aviation pilot who spent most of his career in airport and aviation security.

“AOPA has long recognized and addressed the challenges facing general aviation in the post-9/11 atmosphere,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA’s executive vice president of government affairs. “Bringing Craig on board means that we have someone who understands both the needs of our members and the ways of the security agencies.”

“I’ve been involved in general aviation since I first went flying with my father at about age one,” said Spence. “I’ve been a member of AOPA since the 1980s. And I’ve spent nearly 20 years in airport and aviation security. So I’m looking forward to working to find answers that impose the least possible burden on AOPA members while still addressing the nation’s security needs.”

Immediately prior to joining AOPA, Craig Spence was the program manager for Geospatial and Aerospace Systems in the DHS’s Office of Operations Coordination. In that capacity, he served as the subject-matter expert on all matters pertaining to aviation and geospatial systems, liaison with numerous government and civilian aerospace and geospatial agencies and stakeholders, and was the DHS headquarters representative on various aviation working groups.

Spence has served as the briefer for Assistant Secretary for Transportation Security Kip Hawley and, prior to joining TSA, was the security coordinator for a major air carrier hub airport. He is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and holds a commercial pilot certificate with instrument and multiengine ratings. He has more that 2,500 military flight hours in large, turbine-powered multiengine aircraft.

“AOPA has been a major player in helping to enhance general aviation security,” said Cebula. “Our aim is to continue that leadership and to make sure any security changes make sense.”

The more than 415,000 members of AOPA make up the world’s largest civil aviation association. AOPA is committed to striking a common-sense balance that fulfills national security needs while protecting aircraft owners and pilots from overly burdensome regulations.


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