Jamie Beckett of Winter Haven, Fla., is the recipient of AOPA’s 2012 Let’s Go Flying Award for his efforts in promoting and defending general aviation. The award was presented Oct. 11 during AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, Calif.
Beckett’s love of aviation began early as the son of a U. S. Air Force pilot who flew F-86s before becoming a Pan Am captain. After a “youthful flirtation” with the music industry, at age 30, Beckett decided to switch careers.
Beckett originally intended to be an airline pilot and got his first job as flight instructor in Winter Haven in 1991. He also began writing about aviation issues for US Aviator. He earned his A&P certificate in 1998.
Beckett has held jobs including a stint at Tim Reilly’s Warbird Museum in Kissimmee, Fla., where he helped rebuild the B-17 that toured the country as the Liberty Belle. He also did marketing and restoration work for Fantasy of Flight. And he has just completed his third year as an elected city commissioner, a position he uses regularly to advocate for GA and Gilbert Field.
Beckett blazed a trail in aviation advocacy by founding and serving as chairman of the Polk Aviation Alliance. The alliance was created to bring together the management of Polk County's municipally owned airports, as well as that of Sun 'n Fun, Fantasy of Flight, the Seaplane Pilots Association, the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, Polk State College, and various government agencies. He writes about the joys and benefits of the industry in General Aviation News and uses that publication, along with his website, JamieBeckett.com, to encourage others to become GA advocates.
The Let’s Go Flying Award honors the individual or organization that best demonstrates the passion and commitment needed to safeguard GA’s future by ensuring that there are pilots to fly.