The Liberty Gazette
September 9, 2008
September 9, 2008
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Linda: When discussing aviation with local civic and business leaders we often refer to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). AOPA is the largest and one of the most influential civil aviation organizations in the world. But how many non-flyers understand the impact AOPA has on America? With the impending retirement of AOPA president, Phil Boyer, now is a good time to reflect on the positive impact this powerful organization, and its leader for the past 17 years, have had on our country.
Boyer came to AOPA after a successful career in broadcasting. He was the senior VP of Development for Capital Cities/ABC Video Enterprises, Inc., and created ABC's "Wide World of Flying," a video magazine. During his career at ABC, Boyer held vice president and general manager positions at WABC-TV/New York and WLS-TV/Chicago.
Following this outstanding broadcasting career, Boyer, a 30-year pilot with over 8,500 hours, instrument and multiengine-ratings, took the reigns at AOPA in January 1991. With Boyer at the helm, AOPA became a key player in lassoing the tort law process that nearly killed the piston-engine aircraft industry in the 1980s. Manufacturers were going out of business because of outrageous law suits (that “deep pockets” thing). AOPA advocacy resulted in the General Aviation Revitalization Act passed by Congress in 1994. The act breathed new life into general aviation through an 18-year statute of limitations and other provisions. Reviving an entire industry has had a positive affect on jobs, transportation, and the national economy. Boyer has received numerous awards in both broadcasting and aviation, and brought AOPA to the distinction of being among the top 100 U.S. associations.
Mike: When GPS became available it was AOPA that convinced the FAA to endorse, develop, and certify it for general aviation. This significantly improved general aviation safety.
A visit to AOPA.ORG accesses over 40,000 pages of resources and services. Pilots obtain real-time weather, plan flights, and check for airspace restrictions. Other sections include Government Advocacy (including regulatory policy, technology and airport support), Training and Safety, Media and Public Information, and more.
After 9/11, Boyer was the voice of calm, working with pilots while bringing clarity and reason to the government agencies that regulate them and educating the aviation community and general public. AOPA has been the industry leader in the continuing struggle to maintain open and accessible skies while recognizing the need for increased security. The landmark Airport Watch program was modeled after the successful neighborhood watch concept and developed with the TSA and FAA. Airport Watch operates 24/7 to effectively increase vigilance and security at the nation's 19,000 landing facilities.
With over 415,000 members, AOPA's strong influence in Washington has helped bring more than $14 billion for airport construction, much of that earmarked for general aviation airports, including Liberty. At the National Conference of State Legislatures held in New Orleans in July, AOPA educated nearly 200 lawmakers on important aviation and economic matters, such as protecting airports. AOPA vice president of legislative affairs, Greg Pecoraro, said, “Lawmakers have to understand the needs of general aviation as well as the real economic value it generates.”
Incoming AOPA president, Craig Fuller, offers strong leadership and we anticipate continued success in the organization’s contributions to aviation, and the nation as a whole.
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.