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Membership News & Notes: AOPA supports Able Flight

Scholarship for disabled pilots

AOPA President Mark Baker presented an $8,000 check to Able Flight Executive Director Charles Stites to help the organization with its efforts to offer free flight training to the disabled.

AOPA President Mark Baker presented an $8,000 check to Able Flight Executive Director Charles Stites to help the organization with its efforts to offer free flight training to the disabled. Funding for the scholarship came from the AOPA Foundation.

Able Flight partners with Purdue University’s Department of Aviation Technology to train pilots using a specially adapted Light Sport aircraft. Scholarship recipients spend six weeks training at Purdue, which includes all of their expenses.

“Flight training is a powerful tool to help the disabled become more self-reliant,” said Stites. “From my perspective, it is an extraordinary experience to see a life change, and I’m the luckiest guy to be able to hear their stories.”

People can help Able Flight in two ways. “One, they can recommend someone with a disability to apply for a scholarship,” Stites said. “Two, they can make a donation that allows us to continue to offer flight training. We appreciate the support of people and organizations like the AOPA Foundation.” Each scholarship is $8,000.

“Able Flight is a terrific organization that is successfully offering people with disabilities the life-changing experience of learning to fly,” said Baker. “AOPA members and their donations through the AOPA Foundation allow those who participate in Able Flight to become more involved with GA. We look forward to welcoming its next group of student pilots.”

Able Flight is still taking applications. It is making a special effort to attract female candidates.


What aopa is doing to keep you flying

With strong congressional support, AOPA battles user fees

User fees for aviation are part of the president’s new budget proposal, despite continued strong opposition from Congress and the aviation community. The White House released its fiscal year 2015 spending plan, which includes a $100-per-flight “surcharge” to pay for air traffic control services. “We are disappointed that the president doesn’t seem to have gotten the message,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “With Congress on our side, I am confident we can prevent this arbitrary proposal from becoming a reality, but we have to stay vigilant. We are working hard to make general aviation more accessible and affordable, and whether you call it a user fee or a surcharge, we will keep fighting against proposals like this that would raise the cost of flying.”

A $100-per-flight fee has been a regular feature of the president’s annual budget proposals, making an appearance in each of the past four spending plans. While the fees would apply only to turbine aircraft, it is extremely likely that a fee on any portion of the GA fleet would soon extend to others as well. AOPA has long argued that user fees are the wrong way to fund the national air transportation system and that the FAA needs to reduce spending in several areas before looking for any new revenues. The current system of excise taxes on fuel is efficient and ensures that everyone who flies pays to support the system.

AOPA asks CBP head to investigate stops

Just days after he was confirmed as commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Gil Kerlikowske received a letter from AOPA asking him to immediately fulfill a commitment he made to review the agency’s zero-suspicion enforcement activities regarding general aviation.

In the letter, AOPA President Mark Baker noted that AOPA has now received nearly 50 reports of stops of general aviation aircraft made without a warrant, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion that illegal activity was taking place. Some of those stops involved officers with drawn weapons and dogs, and many resulted in aircraft being searched and passengers and pilots being questioned or detained. AOPA began seeking information and answers about these stops from CBP’s Air and Marine Division in January 2013 and has yet to receive satisfactory responses. “We need to know why general aviation is apparently being singled out for this kind of treatment, and we need it to stop,” Baker said. AOPA will continue to seek cooperation from CBP and work with Congress, the FAA, and others to bring an end to these incidents.

State and local action

Action in the states: Regional Roundup

Great Lakes

While fighting for aviation tax relief legislation in Wisconsin and Indiana, Regional Manager Bryan Budds also appeared at events across the region, such as joining AOPA President Mark Baker at the Great Lakes International Aviation Conference, and introducing more than 80 area students to aviation during the Michigan Flyers Flying Club “Fly it Forward” event at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport.

Central Southwest

Yasmina Platt has represented AOPA from north to south in her region—from aviation-themed days at state capitols in Des Moines and Santa Fe, to presenting the annual Nebraska Aviation Symposium—while working to win passage of money-saving tax exemptions in New Mexico, Kansas, and Missouri.

Alaska Regional Manager Tom George has traveled from Fairbanks to Anchorage, to Juneau and remote areas of the state meeting with FAA officials, working on legislation to mark towers and fund aviation, and pushing the federal government to provide increased access into Alaska for GA aircraft.


Sean Collins has been mixing advocacy with member engagement, attending New York’s Aviation Advocacy Day in Albany, as well as the Maine Aviation Forum, while pushing to expand recreational use of aircraft in West Virginia.


John Pfeifer made his first visit for AOPA to Hawaii to meet with leaders of the state’s general aviation community and AOPA ASN volunteers, and continued his work to decriminalize hangar inspection violations at state airports. He has been working in Sacramento to improve California’s airport funding program, and fight off a legislative initiative that would increase the cost of general aviation activity in Arizona.


Bob Minter was in Atlanta and Nashville for state aviation events at the two state capitols, while pushing recreational liability reform legislation in Georgia and South Carolina, as well as an aircraft sales tax exemption in Florida and welcoming AOPA President Mark Baker to the Tennessee Airports Conference.

Northwest Mountain

Dave Ulane was in the Seattle area to anchor AOPA’s presence at the Northwest Aviation Conference, then continued to Billings for the Montana Aviation Conference, and was joined by AOPA President Mark Baker for both events. He also has been working in Washington state to help support the legislature’s new state aviation caucus—and in Idaho where, with local allies, he helped win passage of new legislation to significantly improve land use planning around public use airports in the state


Airport support network

Volunteer goes all-in to support airport

When ASN volunteer George Chase saw the need to support Arcadia Airport, in Arcadia, Florida, and for events that would attract more general aviation activity to the airport and community, he formed The Friends of Arcadia Airport with a few other pilots and they have been working hard in the first year and a half since the formation of the Friends.

Partnering with the local high school, Chase has created an opportunity to sponsor a local youth aviation club that uses the AOPA PATH (Pilot and Teacher Handbook) program as well as AOPA AV8Rs, AOPA’s youth membership offered free to 13 to 18 year olds.

The Florida delegation of the Recreational Aviation Foundation and the Friends created an opportunity for camping under the wings during a recent Arcadia rodeo weekend. Working with the local government and the rodeo association, they had a great three-day event.

Chase is the president of the 501(c)(3) organization, and credits success to all who have stood up to help keep Arcadia a vital part of the community.

Web: AOPA depends on advocates like George Chase—are you ready to step up to the challenge? Join the ASN program as one of more than 2,500 volunteers.

Member services

Slippery when wet
It’s not about the fuel

Aviation terminology can be confusing. In the context of regulatory compliance, it’s important to make a distinction between wet and dry leasing. To start, we’re not talking about a wet-rate lease or a dry-rate lease. Fuel, of course, is wet and so renting (or leasing) an airplane “wet” can mean the cost of fuel is included in the rate, as opposed to “dry”—which means it does not. The FAA doesn’t care if you rent or lease an airplane with or without fuel. It does care, however, if you lease both the aircraft and the crew from the same source.

The FAA generally considers a wet lease to be an operation where the lessor provides both the aircraft and the crew, and retains operational control of the flight. A dry lease is an operation where the lessor provides only the airplane and the lessee either flies the airplane or supplies the crew independent of the lessor. In a dry lease, operational control shifts from the lessor to the lessee. Operational control means the exercise of authority over initiating, conducting, or terminating a flight.

The FAA says wet leasing constitutes the carriage of passengers for compensation and hire and is regulated by parts 119 and 135 of the FARs. If you don’t have a charter certificate, it’s a violation. You may want to think of leasing as being slippery when wet.

Mike Yodice is an attorney who counsels AOPA Pilot Protection Services members on such issues as FAA compliance and enforcement. He is an active pilot and flies a Piper J–3 Cub and Cherokee 180.

Web: Learn more about AOPA Pilot Protection Services.

Pilots never stop learning

PilotWorkshops becomes AOPA Premier Partner

PilotWorkshops will provide AOPA members with free online access to an extensive library of its renowned audio and video training programs, which help pilots of all levels achieve a higher degree of proficiency. The deal is part of a premier partnership between AOPA and PilotWorkshops, based in Nashua, New Hampshire.

“We are excited that through this partnership we will be able to offer a new training resource to our members,” said Carol Dodds, AOPA’s vice president of advertising. “Pilots never stop learning and it’s great to see an entrepreneurial company like PilotWorkshops prosper in our industry by creating innovative and effective training.”

Founded in 2005, PilotWorkshops is best known for its “Pilots Tip of the Week,” read by more than 120,000 pilots (available free on its website). The company has recruited a world-class team of instructors who contribute their knowledge and experience to PilotWorkshops’ tips and its products.

“The support of our customers and subscribers has allowed us to grow to the point where we can now give back to our industry in a meaningful way,” said Mark Robidoux, founder of PilotWorkshops. “We look forward to sharing more of our pilot tips and training with AOPA members.”

Web: Visit the website to gain instant access to PilotWorkshops training, including programs on nontowered airport operations, single-pilot IFR, takeoffs and landings, IFR communications, weather and planning, and more.

Answers for pilots

Hating the heartburn?

Eyeing pizza with everything, but you know you’ll fight with it for days? Or maybe you are trying to eat healthier, but the increased salads and fruit have reaped a harvest of heartburn? You may have a gastrointestinal disorder such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Find out what the options are for treatment, including FAA-allowed medications, in this month’s Answers for Pilots.

AOPA Foundation

Safeguarding the future of general aviation is a task we take seriously at the AOPA Foundation, and your donations help us move the needle forward. Consider a donation today (

Air Safety Institute

Watch out for those birds and avoid a fowled-up flight

As the weather warms and airplanes flock to the runway, so do our feathered friends. This means that you want to be vigilant and prepared, keeping a watchful eye on birds in the sky.

Learn to anticipate birds’ behaviors with ASI’s Bird Strikes Safety Brief, which is full of practical tips to reduce the potential of a bird collision in flight.

In ASI’s Real Pilot Story, a twin Beechcraft climbs out of Casa Grande, Arizona, just 50 miles south of Phoenix. At 130 knots and 1,000 feet per minute, the airplane reaches 3,500 feet when the pilot notices the birds. A split-second later a four-pound red-tail hawk hits the Baron and the pilot. This video re-creation shows how the pilot successfully dealt with the mayhem his uninvited passenger caused.

Attend ASI’s spring seminar Accident case study: Live

Web: Visit the website for dates and locations.

What will the weather do?

Understanding pressure patterns

You’re looking at the prog chart, trying to connect the dots of the weather pattern to an upcoming flight. Are your assumptions correct? Did you consider all the factors? Might things change at your destination? Can you reliably predict the weather for your return flight?

Weather is the most critical and complex variable affecting your flying. And accurately interpreting weather charts depicting frontal movements and associated weather patterns to formulate a clear, big weather picture ahead of a flight can often be difficult to do. Take ASI’s Weather Wise: Air Masses and Fronts online course, featuring interactive scenes and visual cues that explain weather in a simple and effective way, so you’ll know what to expect when frontal boundaries collide. Upon successful course completion, you’ll also qualify for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program.

AOPA Finance

Six reasons to call on a broker

Using a brokerage firm can save you hours of time and potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of a loan. Here’s how:

1. Use a brokerage firm as an information resource. Even if you’ve bought an airplane before, it’s tough to stay current on all the deals available. When you have a broker on your side, that broker can explain the process to you and answer any questions immediately when they arise.

2. Save time. With a variety of choices in financing, you’ll want to shop around to get the best deal. When you use a broker, all of this is done for you. No phone trees, no entering your 16-digit account number, no leaving a message when you hear the tone.

3. No surprises. No pitfalls. It’s the broker’s job to match you with the best deal available for your particular situation and be knowledgeable about it. You won’t be surprised by hidden fees or time lags.

4. You’ll be an informed buyer. All of your options will be presented to you. You’ll have no guesswork and full understanding of each financing package and its product features that are appropriate for you.

5. Reduce the possibility of being turned down. The qualifications each financial institution requires can vary. If your credit isn’t the best, a financing broker will know which banks have more lenient policies, which will save you time in applying and help avoid being turned down.

6. You’ll deal with reputable and reliable financers. For many pilots, buying an aircraft is a once-in-a-lifetime task. When you use a financing broker, that broker will know the track record and industry standing of all the institutions that are approached on your behalf.

Web: AOPA Aviation Finance’s friendly staff will take the confusion out of financing your airplane purchase. Call 800-62-PLANE or visit the website.

Insurance Services

Insurance file

Aircraft and camping

What could possibly beat the sound of a Stearman warming up for a dawn flight as your alarm clock? As thousands of Oshkosh-bound pilots have discovered, there is no better place in the world to make good friends than a campground surrounded by airplanes, pilots, and tents. Every year pilots and their families hopscotch from one airport to another enjoying America from a vantage point unimaginable in most of the world. So what does that have to do with insurance? Well, insurance folks think everything could have an insurance consequence, and camping under a wing is no different. Unless your policy restricts you to hard-surface airports, you are already covered for landing at that grass airstrip. Check your policy, but you will probably find that the place you land must be designed and regularly used as a landing facility. Your friend’s fresh-cut hayfield may be out, although most companies don’t restrict you to asphalt runways.

So what about your actual campsite? You are probably covered under two policies. One: if your aircraft insurance policy includes an extended coverage provision or endorsement, your liability protection likely extends to include the “use of the premises in or upon which your aircraft is parked,” and two, if you have a homeowner’s policy, the definition of “insured location” probably covers a premises “not owned by an insured but where an insured is temporarily residing.” Finally, while there is some limited coverage under an aircraft insurance policy for the theft or destruction of a passenger’s property (usually $1,000), in most cases your homeowner policy would again be the policy to respond to such losses.

Web: Visit the website to learn about upgrading to the AOPA Premier membership.

AOPA Insurance services new online self-service features

  • Change of address for all policies
  • Certificate of insurance or binder requests for all policies
  • Lienholder change for owner’s insurance policies
  • Additional insured change for owner’s insurance policies
  • Sold aircraft notification for owner’s insurance policies
  • Employer additional insured change for renter’s policies
  • Add Civil Air Patrol coverage for renter’s policies

We are available to answer your questions—call 800-622-2672 or visit our website.

The rules of airport camping:

1. Always call ahead, and get permission to camp. Your policy does not cover trespassing, so whether it is a public-use or private field, even if the airport directory says camping is approved, you need to make sure camping is approved.

2. Bring your own tie-downs. As an aircraft owner, you are legally required to act in a reasonable and responsible manner, so tie the airplane down securely.

3. Keep your campground clean, picked up, and safe, and make sure it looks better when you leave than when you arrived.

By Bill Snead, President, AOPA Insurance Services

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