Canceling the Big Show

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s decision to cancel its annual convention and trade show made news this month. It certainly shows movement instead of “business as usual” under new president Mark Baker. I have some perspective to offer and a modest suggestion. Care to listen?

When I showed up at AOPA in July 1991, the convention was planned for that fall in New Orleans. Being new, I was just along for the ride but, as I recall, attendance was low. New AOPA President Phil Boyer said of future efforts, “Either we’re going to do this right or we’re not going to do it at all.” Thus was born AOPA EXPO, which succeeded so well. You can thank the professionalism and showmanship of Phil Boyer and some great staff people.

Working on EXPO was the annual highlight of my AOPA time. I took pride adding in meaningful content to its five major assemblies: The three morning general sessions and two meal events (opening luncheon and closing banquet.)

To boring elements of any association meeting — award presentations, for instance — we added context and aviation lore both educational and motivational. We even developed annual themes and put our message across in original video produced just for EXPO. (Pre-made videos replaced boring, lengthy speeches with visual communication and better control of time.)

I was busy on EXPO every year from Aug. 1 through mid-November — a substantial fraction of my year’s work. Many similarly had their hands full. But EXPO was a focus for the membership. It also generated follow-up stories and concepts for  the association’s magazine, AOPA Pilot. It certainly focused the staff’s minds and they reveled in “delivering the goods” for the membership.

Problem was, EXPO was experienced first-hand by only a small fraction of that membership. Although convention attendance grew from a pitiful 3,000-something in New Orleans to 12,000+ in EXPO’s heyday, most members merely read about it. Substantial resources were applied directly to only 2.5% of the membership. We dreamed of extending EXPO’s outreach through live TV or video over the Internet; efforts later to do just that (using an outside contractor) were awfully expensive, I understand.

Beyond that, there was general concern among associations that national conventions were in decline. Travel costs and time away from job and home weighed heavy. Vacations were shorter and family budgets tighter. The cost to attend EXPO was increasingly at issue. AOPA noticed that many of its full-fare three-day attendees were aging long-time “regulars” and not newer pilots. Many just dropped in on Saturday, buying a one-day pass and missing a lot of what EXPO had to offer.

But EXPO had its advantages. Held in alternating East and West Coast venues, the autumn event was usually held amid big Florida and California GA populations (a nice alternative for them versus a long OSH trip.) Palm Springs always yielded a great EXPO. Las Vegas was strong. Long Beach and San Jose were good and Tampa worked especially well in Florida.

Problems emerged, however, in seeking venues beyond that. To serve the Northeast, two Atlantic City EXPOs were exciting but the city fell miserably short on visitor amenities. Philadelphia was surprisingly great, I thought, but apparently Hartford disappointed.

Away from the coasts, Texas was always a question mark. A big GA state and center of airline/military activity, did that region have enough population density? AOPA will try it this October, when the Summit kicks off Oct. 10. I hope the South, Southwest and the Plains states will turn out; attendance might be boosted by this Summit’s “last time” billing.

Beyond attendance, there’s the “dollars and cents.” EXPO as a trade show bloomed with the 1995-2005 GA market. Now, the industry is squeezed. Complaints began years ago about “too many shows.” And these days after a busy show season, are exhibitors reluctant to take on yet another show? I think so.

So I’m happy to see AOPA take a new tack. Returning to more presidential pilot town halls and trying some AOPA regional fly-ins gets to more members. Simple fly-ins, for instance, offer more two-way communication — something AOPA needs now. Members have a lot on their minds. They need to get it off their chests. Big convention events are structured for one-way communication. (The association is on stage talking; members are in their seats “getting educated.”) Right now, it’s AOPA that needs to do the listening.

My suggestion to new AOPA management? Find two old 16mm films that used to be in the Communications Division closet. One reminded me of AOPA slipping into “a rich man’s club.” Produced at an early 1960s convention in Hollywood, Florida, the film glamorized AOPA’s “Plantation Party” at a swanky hotel/golf venue. Maybe it was just the overblown style of the film (and my hate for that name), but it looked to me pretentious and status-seeking.

Inside the other film can are golden memories of the 1952(?) AOPA fly-in to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware — one of AOPA’s earliest member events. It was just planes and pilots gathered around old Rehoboth Airport’s stucco terminal. Definitely NOT “sophisticated,” everyone was happy getting their shoes dusty on the literal “grassroots” of GA. There (and seemingly everywhere) was AOPA’s legendary Max Karant in a sports shirt, greeting arrivals and talking pilot-to-pilot. Clearly these relaxed, smiling people loved simply getting together with fellow pilots and their planes. Nothing fancy, but fun.

If AOPA is thinking about regional fly-ins, I’m all for it. This has risks and costs, however. Fly-ins are weather-dependent; rain or IFR means a blown event.

Actually, AOPA may intend merely to set-up shop at existing major fly-ins around the country. This has its pluses but is a blow to AOPA prestige – making the big pilot association merely an exhibitor or co-sponsor rather than host.

And a fly-in is unlikely to accommodate all the bells-and-whistles that EXPO or Summit had – big projection screens, classy exhibit hall offerings, scores of seminars, nice meal events. What a comedown.

In fact, it will come down to execution of the concept. Avoiding big convention costs should cover a number of well-staged regional events. And AOPA would be getting closer to more of its members, both geographically and metaphorically. It’s time.

There’s loss of prestige in canceling one’s premier event. But now is AOPA’s time to reflect, reconsider and change course. The organization’s 75th anniversary year seems an apt moment for AOPA to find its footing again.

© 2013 Drew Steketee All Rights Reserved

Comments

  1. Paul Warman says

    For those of you who attend AirVenture, AOPA Expo/Summit may me superfluous. For those who don’t make the “Big Show” we need some way of seeing and buying our toys.

    Don’t be a demagogue! Baker is punishing the members due to the excesses of his “high pocketed” predecessor.

  2. F L Ahern says

    Thanks for the good article. Anything which inspires thought and discourse is helpful. I am older tha AOPA by three months. I don’t claim to be wiser. I first joined 6 April 1960 the day I got my Navy Wings. Flying from the Carriers, trying to finish college and starting a carrier wth Pan Am I let my membership lapse but kept track of AOPA. My membership is now active since 1973. I am greatfull for all we, through AOPA, can do to keep our flying as free as possible.
    I am thankfull for all the people who work at AOPA and for the four men who have been President. About a year ago I sent an email to president Craig Fuller on a subject which had me concerned. I’m afraid the tone and cotent were somewhat intemperent. From him I received a reply which was very thoughtfull and courtious. The men who lead and all there assistants are not perfect but boy am I glad they are on our side.
    There may be reasons financial or otherwise not to be a member but still please support AOPA and all the good they do.

  3. says

    I agree that AOPA under it’s new leadership needs to become more in touch with the grass roots of GA. After all we are the base. Sure we like to see the wizbang new stuff and marvel at the latest glass (which by the way should not be introduced untill after the private checkride). But honestly, It’s the 152’s, Luscombs, and stinsons that can be had for under 30K that fill the ranks. We tend to pass the wine on our way to the beer cooler. One GREAT fly-in in my neck of the woods is the TRIPLE TREE AERODROME annual in Woodruff SC. Over 800 aircraft from a DC3 to trikes and everything in between was in attendence. I would like to see an AOPA tent at this event. Look up the website at Tripletree aerodrome.com. This event grows every year!

  4. Daniel Schlenger says

    I am hearing the same complaints about the AOPA that I do about other similar national organizations. I suppose that all of these organizations could do a better job of representing more of the membership but I am absolutely certain that without them we would be far worse off.

    Without a strong AOPA (and EAA), anti-GA forces would rule the day. What kind of success would we have in preventing more airport closures without the AOPA? Congress needs a reason to persist in protecting our freedoms to fly and the AOPA is that constant reminder that we are a serious group of motivated voters.

    As far as the annual Expo goes, I never give it much thought. Much of my spare time is taken up with professional seminars (several weekends a year), frequent trips to visit family (usually in my single engine plane), an occasional vacation and local social obligations. In fact we didn’t even make it to the Reno Air Races this year I spite of being within a 45 minute drive due to conflicts with the above.

    So for this long-time member, Expo or no Expo is the same to me. Finding the time just isn’t a big priority. I can’t think of any pressing needs that can be met at the Expo.

    I do rely on the AOPA for my daily emails with GA updates, an excellent magazine that I am glad is still in printed form and to have someone to answer the phone when I have that occasional question about some legal issue or other concern.

  5. David Kincade says

    You speak of the Summit as the Association’s “Premier event,” but for the majority of the membership who never attended the event, it was never that. I am excited to see the move toward more productive regional events.

  6. Mike Finkle says

    When I first started flying as a student pilot working toward my Private Certificate in 1982, I quickly saw the great value of AOPA and joined even before my checkride. Over the years since then, I’ve obtained my BGI, AGI, IGI, CFI, CFII, MEI, all powered fixed-wing land aircraft pilot certificates through ATP, a couple of type ratings, and flown over 11,000 hours, about 75% of it in airline flying, and I AM STILL ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THAT THE ANNUAL COST OF AOPA MEMBERSHIP IS THE BEST MONEY ANY AMERICAN PILOT WILL EVER SPEND IN AVIATION!

    As long as I have been a pilot I have always believed that the best money any pilot can spend in aviation is for their AOPA membership, and the best tax dollars any pilot can spend are the ones that pay for the NTSB. AOPA’s advocacy in protecting our freedom to fly and its role as THE go-to entity for assistance with and answers to all issues and questions related to GA flying are absolutely unequaled and above reproach. The NTSB has equal incredible value as an autonomous “appeal entity” for FAA pilot certificate actions and, even more, as the greatest aviation accident investigation and recommendation agency on Earth.

    Therefore, I also get really frustrated when I hear people complaining about this or that minor issue they have with AOPA causing them to cancel their membership. I agree that the “Wine of the Month Club” may have been a poor choice as a partnership for AOPA to represent pilots in the “positive light” we need. However, if occasional choices such as these are errors, they are small ones and fade to nothing in my mind when compared to the great things AOPA has accomplished, and continues to accomplish, for every pilot in this country and, in fact, the world.

    We have GOT to work TOGETHER – AOPA, EAA, NBAA, etc., etc. – if we are to have any chance at all of growing the pilot population and maintaining/improving our freedom to fly in the US. You never hear of plans for fees being charged to every driver every time he or she uses a public highway, or to every boater who uses a public waterway, or every child playing in a city park, or every human walking the city sidewalk, but we’ve sure heard plenty of talk about aviation user fees. While it does certainly make sense to have those who utilize a resource or service pay the lion’s share of the costs for it, we are already doing so in all of the fuel taxes, (aircraft) personal property taxes, and passenger ticket taxes/fees we already pay. However, WE GA PEOPLE ARE A MINORITY folks, viewed by many/most Americans as “those rich ‘little airplane’ people”, and when the government wants more money that means that every one of us has a target on his back. Unless we educate the general public and our state and local government representatives about the really great value of GA, and the need to protect our mutual freedoms as citizens of the US, I feel certain that GA in this country will fall to the poor status it has in virtually every other civilized country… you either actually ARE rich, or you don’t fly.

    Please… step back and look at the big picture here. WE SHOULD ALL, EVERY ONE OF US PILOTS, BELONG TO AOPA AND “GET INVOLVED”. We need to develop a strong sense of community and joint purpose, and nobody’s doing it better than AOPA.

    As far as AOPA dropping the “Summits”, I for one am extremely sad to see them go. Because of the reasons many have mentioned, primarily cost, I have only been able to attend three of them, which were two in Long Beach and the one in Palm Springs. I greatly enjoyed volunteering in Palm Springs last year (I’d have been happy to do it for no compensation at all), and saved the cost of attending in the process. It was a GREAT experience. Any opportunity to meet with other members of our aviation community makes for a great day. But the presence of so many vendors and the availability of so much information in one place at one time is absolutely incredibly great.

    I also agree that we need more “grass roots” efforts to bring our community members (aviation and others) together, so the “town hall” type, at-the-airport meetings are a great idea as well. The value of the direct person-to-person contact of the smaller groups is probably impossible to duplicate in any other format.

    I, for one, really hope we’ll be able to find the ways to accomplish BOTH types of get-togethers. We definitely need to build the numbers and strength of our Aviation Community!

  7. Perer says

    And I hope that the new AOPA will stop to award free aircrafts to airline pilots who will sell these the day after.
    I hope to see a non pilot or a school winner of the promotional dream generator AOPA gifts.
    Moreover let see how the new AOPA will be able to talk to a young generation who in ordere to achieve an airline job that will pay 30k/year will still have to invest 300,000 in training.
    EAA is the affordable next GA future and unitll somebody will put a pair of wing to a Prius GA will continue to decline.

    • Rich says

      Anyone who joins or renews their membership has just as good a chance to win that plane as you do.
      Why so bitter?
      And if some poor guy wins it, I guarantee you he will be selling it just to pay the taxes on it as most winners have had to do.

      I’m not sure that it takes a 300,000 dollar education to watch an airplane land itself or fly itself around the world on auto pilot.
      Where did you get that number?

      And last but not least, when did it become AOPA’s job to determine what career choices a person makes.
      AOPA and likewise EAA already have enough incentive to increase their membership and promote general aviation.
      It is called survival.

  8. Jesse Ketcham says

    All relevant comments except for those who think that AOPA is for them only and not anyone else. Sorry, but any organization can never be all things to all people and will never be exactly what each of us wants.

    But more than any other single factor, the feds will determine how, where, and when we fly, like it or not. Whether it’s airspace, pilot certificates, TFRs, certification, and the like, the feds have the power and we must have an advocate in DC to provide a strong voice, and AOPA has done a good job of that. Sure, I would like AOPA to be there to address my individual needs, but I can’t be there to testify before congress, or to influence key legislators, or to speak to the media when crash hysteria breaks out, or to propose meaningful alternatives, but AOPA can, and for that we must give them all the support we can. And in the meantime, we can work towards shaping the organization amidst a changing flying culture. Giving up and walking away only hurts us all in the long run; they need all of us, not just a few.

    And for what it’s worth, I enjoyed the summits, lots of planes, seminars, vendors, crowds, and just being with aviation-loving folks. Lets hope that this recent action builds a stronger AOPA.

  9. says

    AOPA is far from perfect (yeah, that wine club thing…), but I don’t see how anyone can deny that they do a lot for general aviation.

    Does anyone remember how well they waded through the morass of security theatre, “enhanced” class Brave airspace, and other restrictions that came out after 9/11? There were serious proposals on the table to keep any GA from flying over any city anywhere.

    Take a look at their educational initiatives — I find their web-based courses, accident re-creations, etc. to be quite good. Miles above what the FAA produces — and you get Wings program credit for it as well. The Air Safety Foundation, the Nall Report… the list goes on and on.

    I see them hounding the CBP folks about these unconstitutional searches, fighting airport closures, filing court documents in support of GA causes and pilots, and plenty of other things.

    Since I’ve been a member, the magazine has improved, the newsletters have improved, and they’ve started offering well-produced video segments, product reviews, flying tips, and more.

    This move away from a big convention is a smart idea. There are plenty of big shows that most of us cannot afford to attend; why not let AOPA come to us??

    –Ron

  10. Tigerpilot 32P says

    This is my last year as a member of AOPA. They have totally gotten out of touch with the bottom 95% of general aviation pilots. Slick magazines with jets on the cover make it look just like Flying magazine-now delivered free to all the barbershops in the country, along with a convention that will cost you a thousand dollars to attend has led to a parting of the ways. Then there was the wine club…
    Back when Phil Boyer was president AOPA was indeed “The NRA of the Air.” Since then we have seen an unstopping downhill slide, with flight restrictions everywhere, pilots held at gunpoint for drug searches and sport aviation priced out of reach of just about everyone-and an association that has not been able to do anything meaningful.
    We need to remember that we paid a chief executive over $600,000 a year to get us into this predicament, while his handpicked board just sat by. Good luck to the new leader-I’m just not joining him on his journey.

    • Rich says

      I doubt they are out of touch with 95% of the pilot population.
      and I will back that up with this fact.
      About 400,000 pilots belong to AOPA.
      About 600,000 thousand pilots have medicals.

      I ‘ll let you do the math.
      AOPA is filing FOIA requests to get to the bottom of these illegal detentions you talk about.
      They are fighting this more than any other group. I am not sure what else you want them to do.
      If it had not been for the AOPA we would still be grounded or at least required to file a flight plan for every flight we take post 9-11.
      Again, you might want to thank them for that but it doesn’t sound like you will.
      Why do you care if someone joins the wine club?
      AOPA makes money off of that wine club to pay the salaries of the people that answer the phone when pilots call with questions.
      But keep your forty bucks if you feel so inclined.
      The rest of us will soldier on paying your way.

      Keep your 40 bucks

  11. says

    In 2002 my flight school was one of the exhibitors. It was a busy time and I felt good participating. PSP, TRM AND UDD were filled to capacity, more than 3,000 aircraft were secured on the ground during the event and over 12,000 persons attended. In contrast the 2012 Palm Springs “Summit” attendance was less than 40% of prior years. Where there had been some 1200 aircraft at TRM, my home airport, less than 50 (read fifty) showed up. It was a sad time. Closing the “Summit” is a good thing, at least for now. Good article Drew, thanks.

    article. Thank you Drew.

  12. Mark Baker, AOPA President and CEO says

    I’d like to take the opportunity to respond to Drew Steketee’s interesting take on AOPA Summits and Expos and the comments his column has drawn.

    My decision to forego our Summit in 2014 wasn’t taken lightly, but I think it fits in with where I’d like to take AOPA, and what I think our members want out of their association.

    I enjoy a good fly-in as much as anybody — I’m an EAA member and a frequent airshow attendee. But as Drew pointed out, we haven’t been able to reach as many members as we’d like with our annual conventions lately. Our Summit this year, in Fort Worth, is well subscribed, but we’ll still only see a fraction of our membership.

    We’ll get a lot more out of holding regional fly-ins to meet with our members. Folks can hop in their planes with their friends on a Saturday and fly into a great GA airport, have some lunch and talk aviation with us. We’ll do a lot of listening and some explaining about what we’ve got in the works, what we’re doing in Washington and on the state level to protect our freedom to fly, our safety programs and how we’re expanding access to our airports to safeguard GA.

    We’ll still take part in Sun N’ Fun and AirVenture and you’ll see me at more fly-ins around the country – starting with a pancake breakfast at KAVC – Mecklenburg-Brunswick Regional Airport followed by the Lake Gaston Splash-In all on Saturday, October 5th. And while I hear Drew’s concerns about weather possibly scrubbing regional fly-ins, as pilots we’re used to working around weather.

    I think Drew makes some good points about the need for getting together, and we’re going to achieve that in 2014, even without a Summit. We don’t want pilots like Otto, whose comment I read, and others feeling left out. Otto, I’d encourage you and those who wrote about leaving AOPA to re-up your memberships and give it another shot. I’d be happy to listen to your concerns at one of our fly-ins. I read your concerns but I’d rather hear them in person.

    And Greg, I love to fly into grass strips and I agree that AOPA should be “all-inclusive.” That’s my goal.

    I will say that we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from members on the decision to hold local fly-ins instead of a Summit in 2014. I for one am looking forward to flying out and meeting with members. We’ll have a schedule out soon.

  13. John Wesley says

    Finally, a positive move by AOPA, they have totally lost track of their membership and its needs, now maybe instead of spending 10 months out of the year putting together a useless overpriced exhibition, maybe they will go to some of the empty, boarded up, overgrown airports around the country and find ways to resurrect them, so people will actually have a place to learn the art of aviation.

  14. Ed Fogle says

    The expense of attending is a problem for me. Two days at the show can cost several hundred dollars in addition to the entrance fee. When traveling long distance to a show an attendee spends three nights in hotels and local transportation for two days of attendance. That makes for very high per day costs. And this doesn’t count airline fares.

    I go for the exhibitors and am afraid many won’t participate in smaller, regional events. This reduces the value of the high per day cost. Of course regional events will be easier to travel to so that is a definite benefit.

    Time will tell.

  15. says

    “No organization must last forever.”. I disagree. Even with the communications outlets we all share, we still need organizations such as AOPA, NBAA, EAA, as a main focal points. Strength in numbers is usually pretty successful. Change is required to do this and it appears this is going to be attempted. While we realize and recognize the negatives, let’s find ways to be positive and work toward that.

  16. Al says

    Wow, I wanted to say that many years ago. I also dropped out of AOPA years ago because I really didn’t think they were focused on why I joined. I attended the Hartford Expo. and looked around and asked why was I here, who is this show for anyway. I have a better understanding of GA aviation at Fun in Sun, I agree AOPA needs to get into the Mom & Pop air shows or fly in’s. And what is AOPA theme or battle cry, I can tell you what I want it to be Aviation Medicals FAA rules, though many are good the medical isn’t . To many restrictions for older pilots with medical issues, who’s working on changing that, AOPA I don’t think so. Get light sport for C-152’s or similar plane’s. Heck I don’t want to buy a 100k plane to fly four hr.’s a month.

    • Rich says

      On the contrary, AOPA along with the EAA SPEARHEADED the present movement to allow pilots to fly 180 HP and less aircraft with fixed prop and fixed gear.
      Will it happen?
      I don’t know but I hope so and you’ll never get a yes answer if you don’t ask.

      They have helped more pilots navigate the FAA medical than anyone else I can think of.

      The EAA is a great group but they have almost no political clout or political moxie when it comes to dealing with the archaic stuck in the mud, FAA.

      And I think might have meant Sun n Fun?

      AOPA Summit is not Oshkosh or Sun n Fun it is a place for pilots to see all the big time vendors in one place and learn about some political things going on that affect GA.

  17. Kent Misegades says

    No offense to the author – but putting a positive spin on this embarrassment is akin to putting lipstick on a pig. The AOPA lost touch with grassroots aviation many years ago, just as the EAA has in recent years. When you ignore the broad base of people who fly purely for recreational reasons, paying 100% of their expense from their dwindling disposable income, sooner or later your membership foundation crumbles. Exposure of pay and benefits for AOPA and EAA leaders and retirees in light of continued decline in aviation activity has surely been one major reason for members leaving these organizations. The Internet too has made part of these organizations today irrelevant. One no longer needs to wait on a slick monthly magazine or annual conference to get quality information – web sites and forums do this very well, and cost nothing. No organization must last forever.

    • Rich says

      Let me know when any of these online venues start lobbying on our behalf in D.C. where the rules that ruin our flying and our liberty are made.

      I ‘ll stand by.

      • Brad J says

        AOPA PAC was key in establishing the GA Caucus in both the House and Senate… Further, they have helped in state government, raising awareness, influencing bills. Also, they are keeping the pressure on the recent string of illegal searches.

  18. says

    Change can be good or it can be bad. Mark Baker states his main focus as AOPA president is to “listen to the membership”, and that’s good. I am both encouraged and optimistic with this. Another good change announcement from Mark is the “grass routes” intent. I have enjoyed attending AOPA Summit over the past several years and I will personally miss the excitement it created. With that said, I am excited that AOPA has decided to reach out to its membership on a regional basis.

    As a regional Vice President of California Pilots Association [CalPilots], I am optimistic and encouraged that through the AOPA grass routes effort, both state and local based pilot organizations can continue to strengthen their bond and working relationship with AOPA, as we all strive toward the common goals of promoting and protecting general aviation and protecting our wonderful freedom of flight in the country.

    As we look forward with optimism about AOPA, we must applaud their successful efforts with the GA Congressional Caucus. For obvious reasons, it’s very important for politicians to be fully aware, and supportive of the positive values general aviation provides our country. This awareness and support is not only important in Washington DC, but on a state and local basis as well. Along with AOPA, we all must voice our opinions to our federal, state and local elected officials and community leaders.

    Speaking of grass routes and reaching out, we are delighted and encouraged that AOPA will be with us in the form of Bill Dunn AOPA Vice President of Airports and John Pfeifer AOPA Western Pacific Regional Manager, as CalPilots presents California Dreamin’, here in San Luis Obispo, California, October 18-19. California Dreamin’ is a free, fun and educational event, featuring Bill, Rod Machado, John Kounis Pilot Getaways Magazine, Jamie Beckett General Aviation News writer and GA advocate, along with Judy Phelps 2011 National Flight Instructor of the Year.

    We encourage you to please join us by registering now at http://www.calpilots.org

    Mitch Latting
    Vice President, Region 3
    California Pilots Association

  19. says

    Get in touch with the different member segments at their own meetings. Send representatives to OSH for the “big” venue, NBAA for the “glitz and convention halls,(Vegas this year)”, regional fly-ins to meet the antique flyers or home-builders and “hamburger” crowd on their own turf, maybe literally on turf. AOPA should be “all-inclusive”, the dollars are probably with corporate, but numbers with the sport flyers and we all need to be heard and represented.

  20. Rich says

    IMHO, AOPA in general and the people that work therein particular are the most unappreciated people in GA.

    And I just want to scream when I hear “Oh, I quit AOPA when they cam out with the wine club”

    Nobody holds a gun to your head to join the wine club and I don’t care if AOPA sells vacuum cleaners as long as the money earned is spent on promoting , protecting the interests of GA.

    And if you are a pilot, you benefit from AOPA’s work.
    And if you are not a member IMHO you are a leech riding along on the coat tails of other paying pilots.

    So get off the couch and kwitcherbellyachin and do something.
    Start off by paying your dues and if your airport doesn’t have an Airport Support Network Volunteer then become one.
    Summit is happening in Fort Worth and AOPA is looking for volunteers to help out a couple hours and they will provide you with a daily pass for your efforts.

    Be part of something.
    Get on the inside looking out instead of standing on the outside looking in.

    • Steve Ayres says

      What is IMHO anyway? Never heard of it!
      A leech I guess in Georgia! Also member of AOPA, EAA, NBAA, AND a whole lot of others. Your language is pretty hostile Rich – maybe we need to tone it down a notch!
      I agree with much of the commentary pro and con, and find that there is much opportunity for all of us somewhere out there to contribute to the general welfare of general aviation. It certainly seems to be a little up-hill for us all right now!

      • Rich says

        IMHO= In My Humble Opinion, IIRC (if I Remember Correctly)
        Just calling a spade a spade.
        If you benefit from the labor of others and contribute nothing to the endeavor , like a flea or a leech or a parasite of any description then I suppose there are other words I could have used.
        Perhaps you could suggest some other word that would get the point across without hurting some one’s feelings?
        Thank in advance for any help you may offer me so that I can turn down my hostilities.

        I am not a Shriner and I wouldn’t tell them how to run their operation.
        Likewise unless you want to tell us what it would take you to become a member of AOPA it isn’t really any of the non member’s business.
        Not to be rude , that’s just the way I see it.
        I have not heard any of the complainers say I will renew my membership IF you do this or that.
        All I have head is I quit back when ……fill in the blank.
        If you don’t think what AOPA does for you it worth it then ok keep your forty bucks and buy a few gallons of avgas with it.
        If you want to do something to help keep yourself in the sky spend it on your dues or become an ASVN volunteer at your airport if your airport doesn’t already have one.
        Lead , follow and do something or get out of the way.
        I hope that’s simple enough.
        It is not my intention to be rude. Just to the point.

  21. says

    Great comments and I fully agree. More needs to be done to create pilots and membership ranks. Legislative action will come from those members, not a select few chosen to WHINE and DINE politicians who do not care in the least about a perceived rich mans game.

  22. Otto Keesling says

    Drew is right on point. These are the very reasons I and many friends dropped out of AOPA. The organization seemed to have lost it’s way. American Auto Club suffered the same fate for the same reasons. What can you do for the membership?

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