P ALM S PRINGS, CA - Felix Maguire is the 2006 recipient of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's (AOPA's) Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award, given annually to a private citizen for the greatest selfless commitment to general aviation (GA) by a private individual. Maguire was presented the Sharples Award for his tireless leadership and commitment to aviation in the state of Alaska.
"Felix has worked relentlessly on behalf of general aviation in Alaska," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "From improvements for VFR pilots - including the unprecedented establishment of a VFR route across the Bering Straits to Russia - to the cutting edge of instrument flight using ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast), Felix has used his broad aviation background to improve safety."
Maguire came to Alaska as a Royal Air Force officer on an exchange program with the U.S. Air Force in 1974, after flying fighter and transport aircraft around the world. A native of Ireland, he liked what he saw in Alaska and stayed. Volunteering his time and talent, Maguire became a regular speaker at aviation safety seminars.
After joining the Alaska Airmen's Association, first as a board member and later as chairman of the board, Maguire became a champion for a number of general aviation causes. Opening a VFR route between Alaska and Russia was one of the causes Maguire fought for.
Given the lack of small aircraft and non-commercial aviation in Russia, some of the early hurdles Maguire had to overcome were as fundamental as getting the Russians to accept a private pilot's license as legitimate credentials to fly in their country. By working with Russian and FAA officials, Maguire and the Alaskan Airmen's Association have made it is easier for GA pilots to push farther into eastern Siberia. Russian Air Traffic Route B369, with VFR border crossing procedures, is now published in the Alaska Supplement. Work continues to extend the route to Anadyr, and eventually Magadan and on to Japan.
Maguire is the civil co-chair of the Capstone Coalition, leading an effort to equip all Alaskan aircraft with ADS-B and WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System)-enabled GPS equipment. During the early phases of Capstone, he pushed for general aviation pilots to be included in the initial demonstration program. He is proud of the 47 percent reduction in fatal accidents the program has achieved over five years in southwest Alaska.
Maguire also sits on the Governor's Aviation Advisory Board, providing input to state government on aviation issues, and on the Alaska Civil Military Aviation Council, where his military aviation background serves him well.
With more than 409,000 members, representing nearly two thirds 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 is without peer to any other in the aviation community.
November 11, 2006