AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 4

PRESIDENT'S POSITION

Getting to know you

BY MARK BAKER
AOPA President and CEO

The (first) year of engagement

AOPA PRESIDENT

Mark Baker was
named president of
the association in
September 2013.

4 | AOPA PILOT January 2015

IN MANY WAYS, 2014 was the "year of engagement"
for AOPA-although that might be a little misleading.
Perhaps I should call it the first year of engagement.
I don't think of engagement as a one-time thing or
a one-year program. For me, it's a fundamental way
of doing business-getting to know our members,
connecting with you, and developing rewarding relationships that impact the way you fly and the way we
serve your aviation needs.
The biggest, most public engagement effort of
2014 had to be the inaugural AOPA Fly-Ins. When we
decided to experiment with hosting a collection of
one-day regional events around the country, instead
of an annual national gathering, we knew we were taking a risk. What if we threw a party and nobody came?
I heard from some loyal convention attendees who
were disappointed by the decision. For quite a few
folks, our annual convention was a not-to-be-missed
event where old friends from around the country connected year after year. But for the vast majority of our
members, our annual Summits didn't make sense-
they were too far away, too time consuming, or too
expensive. And, as much as I value those members who
made attending our annual convention a priority, I also
realized there were thousands of other members that
I never would get the chance to meet unless we tried
something different.
So we took the leap, launched something new, and
were rewarded by a warm welcome and great turnout everywhere we went. I am grateful to the more
than 1,600 members who signed up as volunteers and
amazed by how many people approached me to say
"thank you" for bringing AOPA to them.
Over the course of seven events nationwide, I
got the chance to meet thousands of you-more than
16,000, in fact. When the weather was low, hundreds
of cars arrived. On better flying days we had hundreds
of aircraft, with 543 airplanes at our final event of the
year in St. Simons Island, Georgia. And we served
more than 20,000 meals, including thousands of free
lunches for our members and their families, in celebration of AOPA's seventy-fifth anniversary (see "Sea
to Shining Sea," page 79).
I couldn't be happier with the way the fly-ins let us
connect with so many of you in person. And I can't wait
to do it again. Stay tuned because we'll be announcing
our 2015 fly-in destinations soon.

But the fly-ins aren't the only way we can connect
and engage with you throughout the year. AOPA has
a big presence at major aviation events such as Sun 'n
Fun and EAA AirVenture. And we travel to dozens of
smaller events, too. In 2014 I met with members and
took part in more than 100 aviation gatherings and
meetings of all sizes, from pancake breakfasts to state
pilot association meetings to flying club events.
Then there are our seven regional managers, working
for you with feet on the ground and airplanes in the air
every day in your region (see "Action in the States," page
98). And let's not forget the thousands of AOPA Airport
Support Network volunteers who keep us informed
about issues and activities at their home airports.
There's also all the work we do to get new people
engaged with general aviation and to bring past pilots
back into the fold. Programs such as our Rusty Pilots
seminars make it easy for lapsed pilots to get back in
the air by taking them through the ground portion
of the flight review and helping them connect with
schools and flight instructors in their area. In our first
months, the program has helped bring more than 500
pilots back to active flying status-and started some
2,000 others on that journey.
Engagement takes many forms-not just the opportunities to meet with you, but also the chances to
represent you and your interests. To that end, I participated in more than 100 meetings over the course
of the year with GA groups, aviation business leaders,
members of Congress, senators, and others-including
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Transportation
Secretary Anthony Foxx, and Customs and Border
Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. I testified
before key congressional committees and gave media
interviews on important GA issues.
In 2014 we proved that getting engaged with you,
our members, and the broader GA community makes
a difference for general aviation. From advocacy success to making personal connections, every AOPA
member can be proud of their achievements as part
of the world's largest GA community. We know that
it matters, so in 2015 and beyond, you can count on
engagement once again being a top priority for me and
the entire AOPA team. We'll be coming to an airport or
event near you. Can't wait to see you there!
AOPA
EMAIL mark@aopa.org



AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 8
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover4
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