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New England pilots surprise McSpaddenNew England pilots surprise McSpadden

Aero Club presents award to Air Safety Institute chiefAero Club presents award to Air Safety Institute chief

AOPA Air Safety Institute Executive Director Richard McSpadden flew to Massachusetts March 11 expecting to give a safety presentation and came home with an award.

Aero Club of New England Co-President Georgia Pappas and board member Dr. Gary Kearney presented the group's Presidential Award to AOPA Air Safety Institute Executive Director Richard McSpadden (center) on March 11. Photo courtesy of David O'Leary.

McSpadden had been invited to present the recently released the Air Safety Institute’s Just a Short Flight Accident Case Study to the thirtieth edition of the Crash Course, a safety seminar organized by the Aero Club of New England billed as the largest single, in-person pilot safety seminar in the country. (The event was held days before health officials around the country recommended restrictions on large gatherings to slow the spread of coronavirus.)

Aero Club of New England board member Dr. Gary Kearney surprised McSpadden with the group’s Presidential Award before an audience of about 300 safety-minded pilots at the Doubletree Hotel in Bedford, Massachusetts, noting the honor was created to recognize significant contributions to aviation, and that this year’s selection of McSpadden was as much a recognition for AOPA as it was an honor for McSpadden personally.

“They have been our partners in Crash Course for over 20 years, and they materially have made this, the quality of this course, what it is today,” Kearney said.

AOPA has a longstanding relationship with the Aero Club of New England and has frequently provided content and staff for past Crash Course events over the years, though not always the executive director of the Air Safety Institute in person. Kearney is also a member of the AOPA Foundation’s Hat in the Ring Society and worked with AOPA staff to orchestrate the surprise.

The You Can Fly program and the Air Safety Institute are funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. To be a part of the solution, visit

AOPA ePublishing staff

AOPA ePublishing Staff editors are experienced pilots, flight instructors, and aircraft owners who have a passion for bringing you the latest news and AOPA announcements.
Topics: People, Air Safety Institute

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