Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) President and CEO Craig Fuller told a gathering of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., that the aviation industry is depending on the success of Light-Sport Aviation to bring new people into aviation and keep current pilots from dropping out.
“My first epiphany [about the importance of the sport pilot community] came in 2008 at Oshkosh,” said Fuller. “I was in my transition period, and [AOPA Foundation President] Bruce Landsberg and I took off for about two or three hours and we spent a lot of time in the light-sport aircraft area, and it was very apparent to me that there was a lot of excitement there.
“The second epiphany was when I went to Friedrichshafen, Germany, last year, to AERO. When you look at all the problems they face [in Europe], there are still thousands and thousands of people that are passionate about aviation. So what do they do? Some of them turn to soaring, but many of them turn to light-sport aircraft.”
Fuller said after his visit to AERO, he is convinced not only that sport aviation will grow, but that it must grow. A video of Fuller’s complete remarks to LAMA are available on AOPA Online.