This is an important moment—the kind that comes around only every four years. We, the people, get to express ourselves concerning the fate of one-third of the the U.S. Senate, all 435 members of the House of Representatives, and the president of the United States.
We have not hesitated to ask a great deal from our elected officials. And, I am sure you have noticed they do not hesitate to ask for our support.
This year, involvement in the political process is really essential. Those who win office in this year—s elections will make some of the most important decisions to affect GA in a generation. When and how will the FAA be funded? Will user fees be part of our future? How will NextGen move forward? Where does general aviation fit into the evolving national transportation system? The answers to all of these questions and more will depend on the choices made by our elected officials. And this is our chance to decide who those officials will be.
At AOPA, we work with hundreds of elected officials across the country on a bipartisan basis. Some of you may ask why we don’t choose sides. The reason is as simple as it is important—we want the broadest possible support we can build for our general aviation community. And when it comes to deciding the issues that affect our fate, we take no vote for granted.
For this reason, I address both Democratic and Republican governors. We work closely with the bipartisan leaders and members of the House and Senate general aviation caucuses. As a result, we have the majority of the nation’s governors supporting GA. And, the GA caucuses in the House and Senate are among the largest on Capitol Hill.
On a daily basis, we work closely with key members of the Obama administration. While we strongly disagree with its fascination with user fees, we fully engage in how to modernize the air traffic control system that will serve us over the next several decades. We need support for airports and for the research being done on alternative aviation fuels. Much is at stake.
All of the work we do in Washington and in state governments across the country is done to protect our freedom to fly. I am proud that AOPA is recognized as a force with which elected officials must reckon. However, that would not be possible without the active engagement of so many of our 400,000 members. I truly hope you are among them.
We need your involvement in 2012 more than ever! Our work can only be successful if elected officials and opinion leaders hear from you. In whatever way you decide to engage, the decision to engage is critical. You may like to attend political events, and we have some big ones this year. Perhaps you know an elected official and can share the importance of your own flying experience. (Doing so has enormous impact, as elected officials report to me all the time.) Campaigns cost a great deal of money and those who support GA deserve our support. The AOPA PAC provides some support, but your individual support is also welcomed. The point is, let your representatives know that you are GA savvy. Let them know you are an aviator who cares about GA. And, above all, let them know you vote!
A word about staying informed since, as I travel, I do get asked how best to follow the issues. There are so many news sources these days, but we do our best to make sure we’re covering the news that affects general aviation. Visiting aopa.org opens the door to all that we have to offer. I recommend you sign up for AOPA’s Aviation eBrief, which is free and comes electronically five days per week. Also, ePilot keeps pilots posted every week on important stories. We interview policymakers and talk about issues on AOPA Live with a variety of people, and most of these stories are saved in the “News and Advocacy” channel. Of course every month AOPA Pilot highlights important government affairs developments (see page 12). And you are always welcome to telephone our AOPA Pilot Information Center to tip us off to an issue at your airport or learn more about our position on an issue of the day.
I pledge we at AOPA will do our part. We are making plans to show the face of GA at both national political conventions, where literally thousands of federal and state elected officials will be present. We will work hard again this year to hold off user fees, which we believe will be reintroduced in the budget presented next month. And, we will keep working to prevent states from raising taxes on those of us who own aircraft.
To be sure, there is no shortage of challenges. What you must know is that our success is directly proportional to our voice—and that means we need you to speak up on behalf of general aviation. This election year, share your passion for GA with those seeking your support—make your vote count for general aviation!
Email AOPA President Craig Fuller at [email protected]. A former White House advisor, AOPA President Craig Fuller will be watching the elections closely this year.