Plans for a trip to California were already in place when Cessna spokesman Bob Stangarone called with an offer: Media flights of the SkyCatcher were available in San Diego. Would we like to go? A one-week trip for stories you’ll see this month ( “Cessna SkyCatcher: Fun at Mach 0.162,”) and in the spring became a 10-day trip for Senior Editor Al Marsh and Chief Photographer Mike Fizer. Airspace in San Diego was a poor environment to get photos and do test flights. For one thing, it was full of fog every morning until noon. The SkyCatcher was moved to French Valley, with Fizer snapping pictures on the way up and back. For the return trip nature put on quite a show. Fizer captured the image of a rainbow over Mount Palomar.
Editor in Chief Tom Haines is one of the few AOPA employees privileged to have worked for three of the 70-year-old organization’s four presidents. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know Craig Fuller, president number four,” says Haines. “He is always optimistic and positive in his approach, which makes him a pleasure to work for. He comes to work every day happy and ready to take on the day’s challenges.” In addition, Fuller is a passionate pilot. “One Saturday I was coming back from a trip. Craig’s hangar is two down from mine. He was putting his Bonanza away too. He told me it was his second flight that day. He had done a sightseeing trip around the Chesapeake Bay early in the day, put the airplane away, and went into the office to do some work. Hours later, he came back out and took another flight around the region, getting another aviation fix—this after flying all week on business trips.” Haines reports the highlights of Fuller’s first year at AOPA in “Pilot to Pilot: Aviation’s New Vision,” a follow-up to the interview Haines conducted a year ago.
“Anyone who makes it through an entire career as an ag pilot has done something right,” says Senior Editor Dave Hirschman. “But Dennie Stokes has done more than that.” Stokes makes up to 83 flights in a single day’s work; he’s built a family business that includes his wife and two grown sons; and he runs an ag aircraft dealership with extensive domestic and international sales ( “GA Serves America: Feeding the Delta,”). Ag pilots have a long, colorful (and sometimes well-deserved) reputation as renegades—but Stokes and his peers led the move from piston to turbine aircraft, adopted the most advanced GPS technology, and have improved safety in an unforgiving environment. “By helping farmers become more productive, and selling U.S.-built ag aircraft overseas, Stokes’ aviation businesses increase exports, create jobs, and strengthen his community and country.”
“I trained as a print journalist,” says Managing Editor Julie Summers Walker. “I never intended to appear on camera.” But the world is changing and everyone is wearing different hats these days, and AOPA has gone live. AOPA Live was a highlight of AOPA Aviation Summit in November and Walker was one of the many staff members who appeared on camera in interviews with prominent pilots, politicians, and personalities. “The video collection is available online for everyone, so if you’ve not seen the amazing compilation of interviews, check it out,” says Walker, who interviewed Jessica Cox, the first person without arms to earn a sport pilot certificate. The story of the first-ever Aviation Summit and AOPA Live appears in “AOPA Aviation Summit: Something for Everyone.”