AOPA President Craig Fuller was presented with the EAA Chairman’s Award July 30 for his significant contributions to general aviation.
Experimental Aircraft Association Chairman Jack Pelton presented Fuller with the award at the conclusion of the Stronger Together forum at EAA AirVenture; the forum brings together the top executives of seven GA organizations to discuss significant issues and initiatives that affect them all.
Fuller has worked closely with other association leaders during his tenure as president on issues including user fees, improving the image of GA, and the AOPA/EAA medical exemption request that would allow many pilots to fly recreationally with a driver’s license in lieu of a third class medical. Nearing the end of a five-year commitment he made when he was appointed president, Fuller announced in February that he will step down from the position he has held since 2009.
Fuller is only the fourth president of AOPA since the association's founding; he remains active in his current role until a successor is ready to assume the position. In accepting the award, he reinforced the theme of the forum and a principle that has been characteristic of his administration: “By working together, we can accomplish almost anything.”
The forum included Fuller and Pelton as well as National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen, Helicopter Association International President Matt Zuccaro, National Air Transportation Association President Tom Hendricks, General Aviation Manufacturers Association President Pete Bunce, and National Association of State Aviation Officials President Henry Ogrodzinski.
EAA’s Mac McClellan asked the leaders about the future of general aviation, and answers focused on drawing more people into aviation and educating the public about the value of GA. Fuller recounted a recent experience introducing Boy Scouts to flying using simulators at the Boy Scout Jamboree. Millions of people are interested in the opportunity to fly, according to Fuller; the industry’s challenge is to “identify those people early and nurture that interest.”