As we approach the 2011 holiday season, there is much for which I am grateful and plenty to consider as we prepare for a new year.
At this moment in time we have no new general aviation user fees—despite the efforts of some to impose them during the heat of the federal budget debate. The House and Senate general aviation caucuses are two of the largest in Congress and offer considerable support for the general aviation community. Many governors and local officials also have registered their strong support of GA throughout the year, and for the second year in a row we have seen no new state taxes imposed on GA.
When it comes to communication, we share more information with you, our members, in more ways than ever before. And, you’ve shown your interest in some of our recent innovations with more than 2 million “plays” of AOPA Live video segments in the past 24 months. More than 300,000 members receive ePilot once a week and more than 200,000 individuals subscribe to AOPA’s Aviation eBrief, which comes out five days a week. The new digital editions of the magazines are gaining momentum, with close to 16,000 of you having already signed up for the digital edition of AOPA Pilot, Flight Training, or both. And, our social media channels are frequented by tens of thousands of aviation enthusiasts.
We are also gratified that, under the leadership of Bruce Landsberg, our AOPA Foundation is enjoying strong support from members like you. Since its launch in 2008, the AOPA Foundation has received commitments of $24 million for the vital support it gives in four areas: Enhancing the perception of GA; continue growing the pilot population; preserving our airports; and funding the work of the AOPA Air Safety Institute.
To all of this, I must add the gratitude we should all have in experiencing another year as a nation that recognizes the freedom to fly. For me this is a rather special year because, while I have flown GA aircraft for more than 40 years, this is the first year I have owned and flown an aircraft for just the pure fun of flying.
From the start, more than half my flying time was focused on transportation—getting me where I needed to be. Whether it’s my Bonanza or a line of Cessnas I’ve flown, personal travel took a back seat to business-related transportation needs.
That changed this year with the welcome addition of a good-as-new 1998 Aviat Husky. I enjoyed the challenge of adapting to a new type of aircraft and getting comfortable with the tailwheel experience. The dividend has been to have an aircraft I can just go out and fly for fun. And that is exactly what we did recently when we took the AOPA sweepstakes airplane, the Tougher Than a Tornado Husky, into New England to do some autumn photography. I tagged along in my Husky for three days of the most enjoyable and relaxing flying I’ve had in a long time! (See “The Maine Event,”)
Just a word about next year.
We are getting ready for an exciting and important national election. All 435 members of the House of Representatives, one-third of the U.S. Senate, and the president are up for election.
We plan to participate in both national political conventions where thousands of federal, state, and local officials gather. We also plan to be active in town hall meetings with candidates.
I urge you to be active as well. Let those who are asking for your vote know you are asking for their support. We in general aviation compete with many other interests that come to the desks of our elected officials. We must let them know how valuable GA is to communities across the nation and to each of us as individual voters.
We will talk more about the importance of this election throughout 2012 and how you can make a difference. Most important, let your elected officials know about the issues you will judge them by when you enter the voting booth. Early primaries are just weeks away, so make sure you are registered and make sure to vote.
In the meantime, to one and all, please enjoy the holidays. Let’s all count our many blessings and find ways to appreciate a freedom to enjoy flying that is unique in the world!
AOPA President Craig Fuller recently acquired a 1998 Aviat Husky, N24HU. Email AOPA President Craig Fuller at [email protected]