AOPA’s entire State Advocacy team anchored a second annual online meeting with RAF key volunteers on September 22. More than 40 RAF volunteers were brought up-to-date on current efforts of AOPA Regional Managers, and engaged in collaborative discussions about issues critical to both organizations.

AOPA’s Mike Ginter, VP of Airports and State Advocacy, introduced each Regional Manager, stating their purpose as year-round advocates for airports and General Aviation. “We are special interest lobbyists for general aviation and we love it,” Ginter said. Each manager is tasked with staying vigilant on relevant issues. They heartily invite RAF liaisons to bring issues to their attention, and as registered lobbyists, they have the credentials to influence legislators. They have successfully blocked detrimental aircraft fees and taxes, and bolstered state funding programs for GA airports. They’ve educated legislators on industry progress toward cleaner avgas, and advocated for transparent ramp fees, hangar use, Recreational Use Statutes, and turf operating areas, and responded to noise complaints. Ongoing issues include preventing monopolistic FBO pricing, preserving airspace and preventing obstructions like wind turbines and encroaching housing developments. 

Ginter said current casework includes over 400 airports, adding, “We don’t say ‘no’ to any airport issue” that AOPA members bring to them. Some are big closure issues, and some are as simple as renewing airport leases, he said.

This year is the 25th anniversary of AOPA’s Airport Support Network, and a few RAF liaisons serve as ASN volunteers, what Ginter called “The eyes and ears, our early warning system at each airport.” AOPA now has 2,000 such volunteers, and is inviting more people to get involved here. Anyone may access AOPA’s Resource Library here.

The chat turned to Adam Williams, AOPA’s Airport Policy Manager who interacts with the FAA, and educates policy makers on the value of GA and airports. Bill Dunn, Aviation Strategies Consultant – who started the ASN system – also spoke briefly.

Each Regional Manager then summarized their specific issues, and invited RAF liaisons to respond with regional concerns. Topics they raised ranged from approval of turf operating areas; Wakulla, Florida’s tabling the vote to terminate its airport lease; preserving Alaska’s fly-in cabins, the reclamation of Childs Glacier strip, and adding Alaska weather stations and cameras; Washington state aviation fuel tax allocations; charting Oregon and Utah’s recreational strips; Idaho’s funding surplus that could result in lowering aircraft sales tax, and upcoming housing developments at McCall, Donnelly, and Cascade.

The RAF appreciates its successful relationship with AOPA, and specifically thanks each of these executives for their participation on September’s Fire Hub Chat.

Here is AOPA’s website displaying each region. You are welcome to contact your state’s AOPA Regional Manager:

Mike Ginter
VP of Airports and State Advocacy

Adam Williams
Manager, Airport Policy, DC Office

Tom Chandler
Central Southwest Region

Jared Yoshiki
Western Pacific Region

Tom George
Alaska Region

Brad Schuster
Northwest Mountain Region

Kyle Lewis
Great Lakes Region

Sean Collins
Eastern Region

Stacey Heaton
Southern Region

Submitted on September 27, 2022. Photo by Sarah Tamar.
Written by Carmine Mowbray.

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