Strengthening The Aviation Community

Bryan Budds

by Bryan Budds, Manager
AOPA Great Lakes Region

We all know some of the realities facing general aviation today. Unfortunately, we hear with relative frequency discussions of looming user fees, the declining pilot population, the increasing cost of general aviation, and many other challenges. While AOPA remains engaged on each of these issues and many more, there is one critical component that makes ensuring a healthy GA industry that much easier – a strong regional aviation community.

Right now, just over 87,000 pilots are actively flying in the eight states that now encompass the “Great Lakes Region.” There are piston, turbine, light sport, balloon and so many other pilots, all of whom make up an important part of our community. But, as I’ve seen during my travels, there are many others with an interest in supporting the future of general aviation. From the likely suspects of airport managers and fixed base operators, to the more unexpected groups including teachers, community groups, and local decision-makers, the drive to learn more about general aviation is strong.

To help get some of these aviation dreamers to finally take that important step toward learning more about GA, you will see me at many of the traditional aviation events in the region. However, you may also see me holding local airport events aimed at getting the local community to come out to their airport and see just what general aviation is all about.

Also, building on the exemplary efforts of Bill Blake, who now takes over the role of “AOPA Representative,” the association, through the regional manager program, has renewed its efforts on the state legislative and airport advocacy front and is actively working issues across the region. Issues we are currently engaged with include an aircraft and pilot registration fee hike in Illinois, a proposal to more adequately fund the Michigan Aeronautics Office while not raising any aviation fees, and proposals in multiple states to extend liability protection for private owners of public landing facilities.

In the issues to come, I look forward to sharing more about myself, my role with AOPA, and our efforts to continue building the Great Lakes aviation community. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me at

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