Planes. More planes. Safety tips. And still more planes. For 50 years, that and more is what AOPA Pilot magazine has offered the members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. And in those 50 years, it has grown from an upstart publication to become the largest-circulation aviation magazine in the world.
The March 2008 issue, which marks AOPA Pilot’s fiftieth anniversary, is in the mail, on its way to virtually all of AOPA’s more than 415,000 members (some choose to receive AOPA Pilot’s sister publication, AOPA Flight Training).
“Of all the extras we offer our members, AOPA Pilot is by far the most popular,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “Even in this online day and age, it remains the main way that many of our members stay connected with the association and with general aviation.”
The fiftieth anniversary issue looks back to the earliest days, even before AOPA Pilot was its own magazine, when AOPA published four pages in Flying magazine.
AOPA tracked down the Cessna 182 that appeared on that first issue’s cover (it’s still flying) and compared it to today’s 182. The very first “Never Again” column—still the most popular monthly column 50 years later—is reprinted in the anniversary issue, and AOPA Pilot talked with the pilot who wrote that first column.
There’s a timeline that looks at all the changes in general aviation since March 1958, as well as a new monthly feature that will run throughout this anniversary year, “This Month in Aviation,” which looks at significant events that happened during the month of March over the past 50 years. Future issues will look at each subsequent month.
The AOPA Pilot staff takes a look at the general aviation fleet—which manufacturers are still around, which merged with which, and which have disappeared. And what ever happened to the companies that made those long-ago must-have pilot and aircraft supplies?
“Those of us whose charge it is to maintain the high standards set by the magazine’s first editors stand in awe of all they did to start a magazine from scratch,” said Thomas B. Haines, AOPA Pilot’s associate publisher and editor in chief. “While our mission to provide interesting articles and the information pilots need each month has not changed, we’re constantly trying to expand the legacy left to us.”
For instance, AOPA Pilot has added many exciting online extras. This month, that first issue of the magazine is available to members on AOPA’s Web site, AOPA Online, in a format that lets them flip through the pages, just as if they were holding an original copy in their hands.
“ AOPA Pilot has become absolutely indispensable to the association,” noted Boyer. “It brings in advertising dollars that help us pay for services we provide, but more importantly the magazine keeps us in close contact with the people we work for—our members.”
With more than 415,000 members, representing more than 70 percent of all pilots in the United States, AOPA is the largest, most influential aviation association in the world. AOPA has achieved its prominent position through effective advocacy, enlightened leadership, technical competence, and hard work. Providing member services that range from representation at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, advice, and other assistance, AOPA has built a service organization that far exceeds any other in the aviation community.
February 19, 2008