It’s an aviation tradition in Maine: Round up the folks for a get-together at a noted shrine of flyable objects to compare notes and make plans for the coming flying season.
So it was again on Feb. 18 as about 70 representatives of Maine aviation organizations, including AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins, gathered at the Owls Head Transportation Museum on the grounds of the Knox County Regional Airport for the ninth annual Maine Aviation Forum.
Speakers and organization leaders represented several Experimental Aircraft Association chapters and flying clubs; The Ninety-Nines; the FAA’s Portland, Maine, Flight Standards District Office and FAA Safety Team; the Maine Forestry Division; LifeFlight of Maine; Lincoln, Maine-based PK Floats; the University of Maine at Augusta’s aviation program; the Maine Aviation Business Association; and other groups.
“It’s always encouraging to see the variety of offerings and level of involvement by people who are passionate about aviation in Maine,” said event coordinator Duke Tomlin.
The annual event provides Collins with an opportunity to provide an overview AOPA’s activities at the national and state level, which this year meant covering a lot of ground from third class medical reform (the FAA’s new BasicMed program) to issues of local significance, especially a renewed effort to give general aviation advocacy a more prominent voice at the capital in Augusta.
To that end, he said, a state-level initiative can borrow from national advocacy initiatives that have produced big results in recent years.
“AOPA has been working closely with the Maine Aviation Business Association (MABA) to set up a legislative Aviation Caucus in Augusta, modeled after the Congressional Aviation Caucus that has paved the way for successful efforts like the Pilot's Bill of Rights and third class medical reform,” he said. “This will serve as our collective opportunity to promote general aviation locally and educate state policymakers on the benefits and value of airports and aviation.”
The nonprofit MABA was founded in 2013 at Brunswick Executive Airport, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, to promote airports and “showcase Maine’s aviation assets to the global community.”
Collins looks forward to the diverse aviation interests represented at the 2017 Maine Aviation Forum making an impact as a united aviation advocacy network in the coming years.