South Lake Tahoe Mayor Jerry Birdwell, AOPA Vice President and Assistant to the President Melissa Rudinger, Lake Tahoe Airport Manager Rick Jenkins, and AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn gather at Lake Tahoe Airport during the annual Vintage Mooney Fly-In.
Airport advocacy begins and ends with the local airport user. So said AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn at the annual Vintage Mooney Fly-In at California’s Lake Tahoe Airport on June 13.
“All politics is local,” said Dunn. “And it is critical that local pilots are tuned in to what’s happening at their airport and be actively involved both locally and with AOPA as their partner in protecting the future viability of the airport.” Dunn was the keynote speaker at the group’s annual event, which drew almost 200 people.
Dunn stressed AOPA’s deep involvement in airport advocacy efforts nationwide, but added that the foundation of airport preservation efforts is an active local pilot organization that establishes close relationships with those who make decisions about the airport and with key members of community organizations.
Nowhere is that more apparent than Lake Tahoe Airport, which Dunn said went from the worst airport in the FAA Western Pacific Region to the best in a few short years. ( Read the AOPA Online feature, “Lake Tahoe goes green”). To acknowledge the turnaround, Dunn recognized South Lake Tahoe Mayor Jerry Birdwell, Airport Manager Rick Jenkins, and other city officials who recently received an award from the FAA for their achievement. Dunn also met with Airport Support Network volunteers Phil Corman of Paso Robles and Rick Taven of Truckee-Tahoe Airport to discuss airport noise and lease issues.
Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president and assistant to the president, also spoke at the event to highlight AOPA’s GA Serves America campaign. Rudinger showed a short video about the program, passed out brochures, and discussed the importance of the program to GA. She encouraged attendees to take part in this important initiative.
Rudinger said, “We must tell our story, and we must show those who know little about our industry the value they receive from general aviation every day. We need your help to do that.”