You can already feel the buzz

All systems go for OSH

It’s hard to fathom where much of the United States was in 2020, and even just last year. Quite frankly, I’d rather not go there. I’m always focusing on the positive, and there’s a lot of that going around right now in our general aviation community.

I often talk about how GA came through COVID-19 stronger than ever despite the many challenges. We have seen healthy operations numbers, full flight schools, many certificates issued, and a very robust aircraft sales market.

But the most important measure of GA’s health—to me, at least—is how many of our members and aviators I get to see in my travels around the country. And by the crowds at the fly-ins, aviation celebrations, and airport events I have attended, and just around the FBOs, there is no doubt that we are living in the best of times for general aviation.

And when we talk about the best of times, discussions start with Oshkosh.

Seeing thousands of our members at EAA AirVenture, reconnecting with old friends, making new connections, taking part in a variety of important discussions, seeing some of the world’s best aerobatic champions, and just sharing stories (some of them true!)—it just doesn’t get any better. While the crowds were back at Wittman Regional Airport in 2021, this year’s event should be as amazing as ever.

The AOPA main tent will have a fresh new look, offering our members (and those who should be!) valuable resources to enhance their aviation experiences. You’ll really have to see the new layout to appreciate it. We’ll also have a larger 39 Lounge attached to our main tent at this year’s AirVenture with daily meet-and-greets with a wide range of experts, aviation media personalities, and influencers.

I have that last week of July blocked off for one of my favorite experiences of the year.Our events team has assembled a world-class schedule in our AOPA Program Pavilion, starting on Monday, July 25, and running through the entire week. Once again, these sessions will run the gamut. Topics will include best-practice aviation techniques and procedures; vital safety education; new product intros to help you make the most of your flying experience; updates on how AOPA is protecting the freedom to fly as well as your local airports; career tips; and inspiring stories of GA travel and destinations.

We invite all our members and aviators to our annual Pilot Town Hall, where I will be joined by senior AOPA leaders to discuss the latest developments at AOPA and in general aviation, and how these issues impact and enhance your freedom to fly every day. In addition, we’ll have a dedicated Rusty Pilots seminar on Wednesday morning, helping pilots get back to the left seat after some time off.

Those of you in the flight training world should check out the hands-on demonstrations we’ve scheduled for the AOPA Flight Training Advantage platform, designed to help make the process of training more effective for students, CFIs, and flight schools. AFTA is built to directly boost the completion rate of flight training.

And if you think this year’s Sweepstakes Tiger Grumman was a real head-turner, wait until you see what we have gotten our hands on for the next sweepstakes. If you are a backcountry pilot, or just love amazing vintage aircraft, stop by our tent for a first look at the airplane that will be awarded to one very lucky pilot.

Like every year, I have that last week in July blocked off for one of my favorite experiences of the year. Whether this will be your first trip to Oshkosh or you’re a seasoned veteran following the in-depth procedures into OSH, I’m sure that like me, you can already feel the buzz for AirVenture 2022. Our friends at EAA have an amazing week scheduled, with dizzying airshows, educational workshops, a wide array of aircraft displays, and virtually anything an aviator needs to take full advantage of our shared passion for flying.

I invite you all to stop by our tent to say hello and learn about all the ways AOPA continues to protect your freedom to fly. Blue skies.

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Mark Baker

Mark Baker

Mark Baker is AOPA’s fifth president. He is a commercial pilot with single- and multiengine land and seaplane ratings and a rotorcraft rating.

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