|Appearing together at the Stronger Together forum Tuesday, (L to R) Jack Pelton, Craig Fuller, Ed Bolen, Matt Zuccaro, Tom Hendricks, Pete Bunce, Henry Ogrodzinski, and Mac McClellan. (photo by Dennis Biela)
By James Wynbrandt
July 30, 2013 - Once again leaders of seven of the major general aviation associations gathered in the EAA Welcome Center to discuss critical issues facing GA. The associations have united under the banner Stronger Together to cooperate in advocating for all of GA.
EAA Chairman Jack J. Pelton led the group that included AOPA's Craig Fuller, Ed Bolen from NBAA, Matt Zuccaro from HAI, Tom Hendricks of NATA, Pete Bunce of GAMA, and Henry Ogrodzinski of NASAO.
Pelton kicked off the panel discussion describing how the FAA surprised EAA with hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges for controller expenses at Oshkosh. Each association president described how their group was doing its best to support EAA in objecting to the fees, and warning that charges for traditional FAA services must be resisted before they spread.
Zuccaro said that helicopter flying was increasing with a wide variety of missions. One of the major concerns for the helicopter industry going forward is a shortage of qualified rotary wing pilots.
Bolen of the business aviation group said public perception was a concern. NBAA has a great deal of research that shows nine out of 10 top ranked companies all operate business airplanes.
Pelton and AOPA's Fuller described how both groups are working hard to attract new people to personal aviation. EAA's Young Eagles and a new emphasis on supporting flying clubs by AOPA are important tools in slowing the decline in the pilot population.
Every association president on the panel thanked the members for contacting their representatives in support of aviation issues and pointed to recent success in Congress including a mandate to the FAA to simplify the certification rules governing light airplane certification and passing the Pilot's Bill of Rights.