GA and the middle class: The Great Divergence

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

My General Aviation is for everyone — or at least for a lot of people of varying wealth and incomes. What inspired me in the 1960s was that firemen, farmers and school teachers in my town were flying. What a wonderful American story. But now?

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In a new era, will public support be there?

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

Recently, the regional authority for long-beleaguered Queen City Airport outside Allentown, Pennsylvania, committed to fixing problematic underground fuel storage tanks but refused to say that investment guaranteed the airport’s long term survival.

Despite being named FAA Eastern Region GA Airport of the Year in 2006, this large, close-to-downtown reliever for airline hub Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE) has been threatened before. It’s a familiar story.

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Boom years ahead for GA?

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Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

I still think most people underestimate the role of World War II in the modern growth of General Aviation. After all, 2011 marks 65 years since 1946 when the world was new again and all things were possible for Americans. At 65, has GA now reached retirement age or are there new “Boom Years” ahead?

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GPS Direct?

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

Again, consumer electronics will be king this holiday shopping season, driven by vast leaps in features and capabilities at ever-decreasing cost. Priced flat-screen TVs lately? No wonder the most widespread progress in General Aviation after 1980 was in avionics.

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Flight Service? It’s right there, next to Home Depot

Drew Steketee photo (c) 2010 All Rights Reserved

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

On the fifth anniversary of contractor-operated FAA Flight Service, many commented on either program success or loss of “local knowledge” at the three super-centers covering the continent. For me, it turns out Flight Service is still close by — right next to my local Home Depot.

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A ‘Favorite Fly-Out’ and a cautionary tale

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Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

More than 10 years ago, I asked AOPA members to vote for their “Favorite Fly-Outs.” These would be those special places where flying made the most sense, the fun but hard-to-reach destinations that justify learning to fly. The winner: Cedar Key, Florida.

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N.J. airport puts open land to innovative use

Steketee MIV Motorsports Park 2

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

In rural southern New Jersey, GA seems to be going one way and high-end sports car racing another. Interestingly, they both do it at the airport.

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Smoketown and the world’s most famous 150

Photo © Drew Steketee 2010 All Rights Reserved

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

TA-DA! Here it is. In the center ring, ladies and gentlemen, the world’s most famous Cessna 150, which made headlines a few years ago when it blew through the Washington, D.C., ADIZ and the press had a field day.

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Want an unmanned aircraft or two with that?

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

In August, Washington was abuzz over an unmanned Northrup Grumman Firescout helicopter that escaped Navy test controllers and headed towards D.C. at 2,000 feet. With all the hubbub here every time a C-150 busts the big post-Sept. 11 ADIZ, GA pilots would have enjoyed seeing the military this time on the 6 p.m. news, spread-eagle on the tarmac.

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Finding the grass in Mount Dora

MountDora

It had to be here somewhere. I was hunting a small grass strip south of pretty Mount Dora, Florida, as my search for a retirement town continued. Aside from its growing reputation as a new Florida “cultural capital” and great weekend outing from Orlando, Mount Dora had two or three grass airstrips on its map.

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