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AOPA hosts first-ever regional summit for its airport volunteersAOPA hosts first-ever regional summit for its airport volunteers

AOPA hosts first-ever regional summit for its airport volunteers

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ASN volunteers from across
Florida attend regional summit.

Mar. 31, 2004 - AOPA has begun holding regional summit meetings with its Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteers - a grass-roots organization aimed at protecting America's airports. The first meeting, intended to let the volunteers talk over regional issues and explore ways that AOPA can offer even stronger support, was held recently at St. Petersburg, Florida's Albert Whitted Field.

"These dedicated volunteers are AOPA's eyes and ears - our early warning system," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Bringing them together allows the AOPA headquarters staff to listen and learn how to give each volunteer even more clout for addressing the number-one issue affecting AOPA members - preserving their airports."

That's a large part of the reason the meeting was held at Albert Whitted Field, site of perhaps the biggest airport win in 2003. Jack Tunstill's close coordination with both the local pilot community and AOPA, and his outspoken advocacy for the airport in the general news media, were central to last November's overwhelming vote by St. Petersburg residents to keep Albert Whitted open.

Nearly two dozen ASN volunteers gave up most of a Saturday to attend the summit. They talked about what they need from AOPA to help protect their home airports. It was hosted by Jack Tunstill, ASN volunteer for Albert Whitted; AOPA's ASN Manager Mark Lowdermilk; AOPA's regional representative for Florida, Nelson Rhodes; and AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Roger Cohen.

Based on suggestions from a series of meetings being held across the country, AOPA will update support materials that make it easier for the volunteers to act as airport advocates in the local community. The association will also develop additional advocacy materials designed to address critical issues such as security, access restrictions, noise, encroachment, or closure.

"The Airport Support Network is a one-of-a-kind resource - the kind of grass-roots organization other advocacy groups dream of," said Boyer. "So we're working to make sure the volunteers have all the skills and tools they need."

There are currently more than 1,600 ASN volunteers nationwide. By year's end, AOPA expects to have 1,750 volunteers, with an ultimate goal of one volunteer at 2,200 public-use airports included in the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. More information about the ASN program and a form for nominating a potential volunteer are available online.

The next ASN regional summit is scheduled for April 24 at Buchanan Field in Contra Costa, California. Two others are planned for later this year.

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