AOPA launches Rusty Pilots Initiative

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) today launched the Rusty Pilots program, which allows lapsed pilots a way to return to flying in a matter of hours through a free session of ground school that fulfills the FAA’s flight review requirement for ground instruction.

[Read more...]

Wagstaff named AOPA ambassador

Legendary airshow pilot Patty Wagstaff will serve as an “AOPA Ambassador,” officials with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association said Wednesday.

[Read more...]

AOPA president to speak to Wichita Aero Club

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Mark Baker will speak March 11 to the Wichita Aero Club.

[Read more...]

AOPA promises strong opposition to user fee proposal

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association said Tuesday it would continue to reject aviation user fees after the White House released its 2015 budget proposal, which calls for a $100-per-flight “surcharge” to pay for air traffic control services.

[Read more...]

AOPA AV8RS program awards scholarships

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s (AOPA) AV8RS youth membership program has awarded four scholarships totaling $20,000 to teens who are pursuing flight training in high school and college.

[Read more...]

AOPA gets back to basics

With the new year came a big new announcement from our friends in Frederick, Maryland. Six new fly-in events will grace the calendar starting in 2014, spreading from the east coast to the west coast, with important bases of operation in the middle of the country, too.

Yes, this is big news. It signifies and entirely new and different approach for the largest and arguably most important of the aviation-centric alphabet organizations.

[Read more...]

AOPA unveils dates, locations for regional fly-ins

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has revealed the dates and locations of its first-ever regional fly-ins to be held nationwide throughout 2014.

[Read more...]

A battle GA must win

An in-depth story on AOPA.org about the embattled Santa Monica Airport in Southern California notes that its fate could have implications for airports across the country. The subject of a lawsuit by the city to close the airport, SMO “should be the cause célèbre of aviation interests to draw the proverbial line in the sand,” Richard Asper, an airport consultant, is quoted as saying in the story, adding it’s a fight the aviation community cannot afford to lose. “We have to make this one a public outcry.” Read the full story here.

AOPA names Coon to lead government affairs division

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has named Jim Coon as senior vice president of Government Affairs and Advocacy.

Coon, who has years of experience working with Congress and the aviation industry, will oversee both the regulatory and legislative aspects of AOPA’s advocacy operations.

[Read more...]

AOPA calls lawsuit to close Santa Monica Airport meritless

Officials at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) say a federal lawsuit filed Oct. 31 by the City of Santa Monica against the FAA lacks “any merit in law.”

In its lawsuit, the Santa Monica City Council asks the court to give the city clear title to the site of the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO). The city also reportedly challenges as unconstitutional the airport land transfers that were made with obligations that, in part, require the city to operate the airport in perpetuity, AOPA officials noted.

“The City Council knows those obligations exist but are singularly focused on striking them down by whatever method they can find,” AOPA officials said in a prepared released. “In each such previous attempt, the city has lost the battle.”

“As a proponent of the airport and its value to AOPA members, the local communities, and the national transportation system, AOPA has spent hundreds of hours working to keep Santa Monica Airport open,” the release continued. “AOPA has researched the city’s legal claims over the years and has actively participated in litigation and in the public forum to strike down, time and time again, the city’s claims that the airport land is theirs to do with as they want.”

“It is abundantly clear that the claims made in the city’s lawsuit have no basis in fact,” said Ken Mead, AOPA general counsel. “The city’s argument is hardly a novel one, and it should be very clear by now to members of the Santa Monica City Council and opponents of the airport that the airport must remain in operation under its agreement with the federal government. That may be politically unpopular for a few council members, but it happens to be the law.”

Santa Monica’s City Council has long sought to restrict and even close the airport, due to noise complaints, though a recent survey of city residents by AOPA found that more than 70% wanted the airport to continue to operate. Most complaints are generated, apparently, by residents who do not live in the city of Santa Monica, according to AOPA officials.

In a statement, Santa Monica contended that it owns the airport land and that, during World War II, it worked with the federal government to “expand and improve the airport.” The statement notes that after the war, the “airport was returned to the city through an instrument of transfer. The federal government claims that the instrument of transfer obligates the city to operate the airport ‘in perpetuity’ or forfeit its ownership interest to the federal government. The city disputes this claim.”

Santa Monica Municipal Airport was founded in 1917 and it has a storied aviation history. In the early 1920s, it was the home of Douglas Aircraft Co., which built the first houses near the field for its employees. Since then it has become surrounded by industrial and office buildings, and more homes have been built near both ends of its single, 5,000-foot runway.

Though those homes were built long after the airport was established, homeowners complain about noise and exhaust from aircraft using the airport.

In a statement, City Manager Rod Gould said city officials have met with the FAA and, “proposed possibilities for changes, including operational changes.” Gould stated that, “The FAA representatives were polite and respectful. But, they were simply unwilling or unable to agree to any changes that could bring significant relief to airport neighbors. They believe that the city is legally obligated to continue operating the airport as it now operates and to keep operating it forever because of the post-war transfers.”

The FAA has offered options to the city to enhance safety at the airport but the city has flatly rejected them, AOPA officials said.

AOPA officials add that they agree with the FAA’s legal assessment of the airport’s status, which has been the subject of exhaustive review. Under a 1984 agreement with the FAA, many of the city’s leases at the airport expire in 2015. Airport opponents argue that the FAA’s obligation to the airport also expires at that time, which the FAA disputes.

The airport is home to about 267 aircraft, according to AOPA’s Airport Directory. But, more than that, “Santa Monica Airport is an integral part of the local economy, providing jobs and millions of dollars in annual revenue,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA’s vice president for airport advocacy. “The city benefits from the taxes on that revenue, not to mention the exorbitant landing fees that it has imposed. And the airport operates in the black. It has a long tradition of serving the community and providing local aviators with the freedom to fly and a great amount of previous legal research has already shown that it will continue to do so.”