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Pilots, AOPA connect at Alaska eventsPilots, AOPA connect at Alaska events

Fly-in season is well underway—including in Alaska, where AOPA participated at two of the state’s major aviation events.

2017 Valdez Fly-In and STOL competition. Photo by Mike Collins.

The Great Alaska Aviation Gathering can always be counted on to live up to its name as Alaska’s largest aviation event. AOPA was a gold sponsor of the 2019 gathering, which took place May 4 and 5 at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Staff from AOPA’s government affairs and member services teams set up shop on the airport to provide services to members and provide updates on advocacy initiatives and news from the flight-safety front.

The updates at the gathering included two educational seminars, with Northwest Mountain Regional Manager Warren Hendrickson, presenting on the topic Will Your Airport Be There Tomorrow?, a session designed to encourage user involvement in airports before they come under restriction or threat of closure.

How to Pitch Aviation to Your School was the theme of a talk by AOPA Alaska Regional Manager Tom George, who explained how AOPA’s High School Initiative brings aviation-sector career options within reach of students through an aviation-based science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum that is being adopted by schools across the country, in the process bolstering the general aviation pilot population.

“We are pleased to have a school in Alaska, King Tech High School in Anchorage, that plans to use the AOPA high school curriculum this coming year,” he said. “I hope we can encourage our members to approach other schools in the state to take advantage of this material to help engage the next generation.”

Bringing new participants into aviation isn’t the only way AOPA is working to rejuvenate the pilot population. Getting inactive pilots back in the air is also a priority, and AOPA, in partnership with the Alaska Airmen Association, hosted one of its popular Rusty Pilot seminars to a full house with flight instructor Philip Mandel presiding over the session. AOPA’s initiative to get pilots flying and keep them flying has now helped 6,500 pilots become active again since the program launched in 2014.

The statewide gathering also brought together members of AOPA’s Airport Support Network and gave the program’s volunteers—who do so much to protect pilots’ interests in the workings of their local airports—a chance to get acquainted and share their goals.

The following weekend for the AOPA staffers it was on to the Valdez Fly-In—famous for its short-field landing contest—where Rune Duke, AOPA senior director for airspace, air traffic, and aviation security provided an update on recent changes made to special-use airspace in Alaska, where the military makes extensive use of shared airspace.

Duke also discussed the impact of the approaching Jan. 1, 2020, deadline to equip with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out on flight operations in Alaska. He also briefed the pilots in attendance on AOPA’s continuing efforts to improve weather facilities and support other components of Alaska’s aviation infrastructure.

Topics: Advocacy, Safety and Education, Pilots

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