by Mark Baker
AOPA President & CEO
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine April/May 2023 Digital Issue
We all know there is no tighter-knit community than ours in general aviation. We share a great passion for flying, and we have a fierce and common bond to promote and protect this freedom to fly. Wherever we go, we are among friends. There’s simply nothing else like it anywhere.
I have said it many times that there is nothing I love more than to be out and about across this great nation meeting our members, sharing stories of aviation, listening to their concerns, and giving our community an important voice in our work.
But this connection and commitment to GA goes far beyond individual aviators. In my years at AOPA, I have seen first-hand that the strength of our community lies in the power of partnership among like-minded associations and organizations, companies and other groups, all with a collective focus on keeping GA vibrant for years to come.
We may have distinct members and customers, and sometimes even missions, but GA is more powerful when we stand together as partners.
Partnership is a key word for AOPA. Not only do we appreciate our members, who allow us to do what we do, but we treasure the relationships we have with a variety of organizations – all under the banner of promoting and protecting general aviation. Whether it’s our business partners, fellow general aviation organizations, type clubs, local airport officials and those groups with a specific aviation connection – we stand strong as one.
Great partnerships happen when people and organizations are aligned in their values and mission.
I am especially grateful for our business partners at AOPA. With the help of our strategic partners – Aero-Space Reports, Aircraft Spruce, AssuredPartners Aerospace, Boeing, Breitling, California Aeronautical University, PilotWorkshops, SiriusXM, and Sporty’s – our collective goal is to help keep flying safer and a bit more affordable. The support of our other corporate partners, advertisers and event exhibitors, many of whom provide valued member benefits, allows our GA community to stay vibrant and accessible.
General aviation is also much stronger thanks to the sense of community among the major GA associations, all of whom share our strong commitment to the health of our industry. I salute my partners at General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association, Helicopter Association International, American Association of Airport Executives, and National Association of State Aviation Officials for their ongoing commitment to keeping our passion thriving and accessible.
This gratitude also extends to our colleagues at the Federal Aviation Administration. We may not always see eye to eye on important issues, but I know that our partners at the FAA have the best interests of the GA community at heart. We’re aligned on more issues with the FAA than not.
Having flown many different types of aircraft, I have become a member of – and friends with – type clubs that share a passion for a wide variety of airplanes. There’s an airplane for every type of flying, and there’s a type club for virtually every airplane. I invite you to check these groups out and become a part of something special within something special.
Protecting your freedom to fly all comes down to the vibrancy of our more than 5,500 public-use airports across the country. Airport executives – and local officials who support our airports – are great partners in this mission to safeguard GA. We’re only as strong as the health of our local airports, and I thank everyone on the ground for allowing us to explore so many special places by air.
And speaking of local advocacy, I also can’t think of better partners in this passion than our own Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteers. Now well north of 2,000 members – and celebrating their 25th anniversary – our ASN volunteers serve as our eyes and ears at local airports, and are often our early-warning system for emerging issues at many GA airports across the country. An adjunct to the work that our Regional Managers do on a daily basis, the commitment of our ASN volunteer network is invaluable in helping us protect your freedom to fly.
AOPA plays a major role in promoting this wonderful passion we call flying. But we can’t do it alone; our partnership with hundreds, if not thousands, of other constituents makes our job of protecting your freedom to fly that much easier. Blue skies to all!