by Mark Baker
AOPA President & CEO
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine June/July 2023 Digital Issue
I recently had the pleasure of hosting an all-hands meeting of AOPA staff at our HQ, and what a gathering! It was great to see everyone together and celebrate what we do for our members and the general aviation community every day: protect your freedom to fly.
Talking with the scores of people on-hand for this special day reinforced what I have known during my 10 years with AOPA: how extraordinary, talented and dedicated our AOPA team is, and the wealth of benefits we bring to you every day.
While many of our members take advantage of the valuable range of services we provide, some are connected with us in very specific ways – help with a legal issue, a love for our publications and videos, or learning through our safety content. I just want to remind all of our members how your AOPA membership truly is one of the most valuable assets in aviation.
Just consider how we surround and protect you – at home, at the airport, in the air, and everywhere in between.
For starters, our government affairs team in D.C. and in regions across the country spends every day protecting your freedom to fly – freedoms against a lack of transparency by airports and FBOs, keeping your airports open in the face of threats, making it less painful to register your aircraft, making sure flight training is defined as just that, and working to increase hangar availability to our local airports, just to name a few ways.
Having the support of our Pilot Protection Services, and legal and medical teams, can make all the difference in the world when you’re faced with a serious, and often very unnerving, issue. The team has incredible experience, expertise and resources to help you navigate your way forward.
Our Pilot Information Center and Member Services teams get hundreds of calls from members each day, and provide valuable support on virtually every aviation situation or issue. Let these teams be your first (and probably last) call for whatever is on your mind.
With the skies as busy as I have ever seen them, safety is paramount – it’s in our DNA. No doubt many of you keep tuned to the valuable and timely content that our Air Safety Institute provides on a weekly basis. We’re proud (of all of you!) that we are in the safest time ever for GA, but we never rest.
I know that virtually all of our members stay up to date and engaged through our different media channels: Pilot and Flight Training magazines, digital and social media, video and podcasts. Our media products are always adapting to ways that you consume content. AOPA has a robust and dedicated team solely focused on bringing you news and features about everything going on in GA today.
Our teams are always looking at new ways to enhance your connection to AOPA, which I trust is among your most valued aviation relationships. We always have an open mind and ear about product or service ideas.
Speaking of enhancing your experience, how about the nearly 12,000 rusty pilots that our You Can Fly team has helped to get back in the skies? There’s nothing like getting your certificate – it’s a whole other thrill to get back into the cockpit after some time off, however long it’s been!
Our You Can Fly teams can also help you get better and more economical access to airplanes through flying clubs; we have helped form more than 220 clubs since we started out just a few years ago. And for those currently in flight training or just getting started, our AOPA Flight Training Advantage platform makes training more efficient and a better experience for student and instructor.
I also need to give a shout out to our You Can Fly High School STEM team – more than 16,000 students are enrolled in the curriculum just this year across 43 states. Since we started, we’ve engaged more than 50,000 students, and more than 70 percent of the first graduates say they are actively pursuing an aviation career. We offer this valuable curriculum free of charge to educators; if you’d like to know more, contact our team!
And if you have that certificate and are itching to buy an airplane, our Aircraft Financing team can help you navigate the world of putting a beautiful bird in your hangar.
I mention these benefits not simply to create a list, but to give all of our members a complete view of how we protect your freedom to fly in so many ways. Please let us know how we can make your membership and flying experiences more rewarding and exciting.