State aviation organizations play an important role ensuring a region has a thriving aviation industry and a safe infrastructure. AOPA is building relationships with state officials and local aviators in Alabama to form a strong partnership to protect general aviation.
At the invitation of Dr. John C. Eagerton IV, chief of the Alabama Department of Transportation’s aeronautics bureau, AOPA Director of Advocacy Joey Colleran traveled with state aeronautics staff to meet with local pilots and reach out to aviation groups throughout the state on Oct. 22. Colleran visited four airports and met with airport managers and GA advocates.
“AOPA works nationwide to protect GA airports, and visiting Alabama pilots at their airports to hear their concerns is an important part of fulfilling that commitment,” said Colleran.
The bureau uses its 1975 Beechcraft Baron as an efficient means of transportation in support of the organization’s mission. The aircraft allows state aeronautics personnel to meet with FAA officials and airport representatives throughout the state about construction projects, respond quickly to problems that arise, and observe airport conditions from a pilot’s perspective.
Using the capabilities of GA to reach communities quickly and efficiently, Colleran traveled to four airports in one day. At South Alabama Regional at Bill Benton Field in Andalusia, she met with AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Jeffrey Rutherford, Interim Manager Misty Jones, and Assistant Manager Jed Blackwell. At Albertville Regional, she spoke with Manager Jerry Cofield. She discussed airport issues with Manager Russ Kilgore at Jack Edwards Airport in Gulf Shores.
At Auburn-Opelika Robert G. Pitts Airport in Auburn, Colleran spoke with Mark Stirling, Auburn University director of real estate, and Joe Hanna, of the university’s aviation management program. Auburn offers an extensive aviation management program and flight training and is working to develop a world-class GA airport in partnership the cities of Auburn and Opelika.