AOPA has named a California pilot and veteran airport volunteer who worked tirelessly to ensure general aviation a home at the Van Nuys Airport the recipient of the association’s 2015 Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award.
Elliot Sanders, AOPA’s Airport Support Network volunteer at Van Nuys, an active private pilot, and the owner of PAB Insurance Solutions, received his award from Dawn Veatch, AOPA senior director of government affairs, March 2 in a ceremony and reception at the Van Nuys Airport.
“For the past 10 years, Mr. Sanders devoted significant time and resources to ensuring that general aviation piston aircraft would continue to have a home on Van Nuys Airport,” she said. “He formed and served as the first President of the VNY Prop Association. The $21 million, 30-acre propeller aircraft facility, located on a former Air National Guard site, will include a terminal, maintenance services, flight schools, a restaurant, a self-service fuel station, and an aircraft wash rack.”
The ceremony honoring his achievements was held on the site of the piston aircraft facility that Sanders was instrumental in creating.
For more than a decade, Sanders participated in the effort AOPA pursued with other GA advocates to protect piston-aircraft pilots’ access to the airport while the growth of other aviation segments was encroaching.
“He worked with officials at Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA) and other interested parties to promote the dedicated piston prop-park on that parcel of land,” Veatch said.
Through the process, Sanders coordinated with the developer, LAWA, airport tenants, and various municipal elected officials and commissioners to overcome challenges that arose.
“Some of these challenges could have caused the project to fail had it not been for Mr. Sanders’s leadership,” she said.
Ground breaking for the new facilities took place in June 2014.
Sanders’s award also recognized his early participation in AOPA’s Airport Support Network, which was launched in 1997 to help local pilots preserve, protect, and promote their airports.
“He is model example for the ASN program and works closely with AOPA on issues impacting our members at Van Nuys Airport,” Veatch said.
The Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award is named for AOPA’s first chairman of the board, and recognizes those in the private sector whose life’s work is outside the industry but whose contributions to GA are extraordinary, as were those of its namesake.