The first week of November found the RAF board of directors in Tampa, Florida, to hold a BOD meeting and host an RAF booth at the three-day AOPA Aviation Summit. Almost 7,500 aviation enthusiasts registered for this annual event. Most were from the southeast United States.
The RAF booth, designed by director Tim Clifford, featured a camping theme demonstrating – as president John McKenna said – that, “We are the fun guys”. Within the booth was a “camp site” complete with tent, camp chairs, and a “fire ring”. A 10’ X 8’ photo of two Huskies parked in a high meadow in eastern Oregon served as backdrop, generously provided by Aviat Husky’s Stu Horn. A video monitor ran continuous back country photos and information. The catchy display generated lots of interest in what the RAF is all about. Your directors stressed the different projects that we are working on as well as the successes achieved during the six years of the RAF’s existence, like the first new airstrip on U.S. Forest Service lands in forty-five years and Ryan Field near Glacier National Park.
Most visitors to the booth did not realize that the west is comprised of vast tracts of public lands where much recreation takes place. They were interested in the issues that the RAF must deal with in the west, as compared to private land issues in the east. There was interest in the various states’ recreational use statutes and what needs to be done to amend states’ statues to further protect private airstrip owners.
AOPA President Craig Fuller visited the booth twice, the second time with a camera crew in tow. On Saturday morning at the AOPA town hall meeting, Fuller was asked what was being done to prevent airstrip closures. Part of his response credited the Recreational Aviation Foundation and encouraged pilots to support it.
RAF volunteers collected over 230 names of persons who wanted to support the efforts of the organization. President John McKenna especially wants to thank the all-volunteer RAF board members and spouses who gave their time and energy to make this all happen: Dan and Margie Prill, Chuck and Penny Jarecki, Tim and Anne Clifford, John and Tricia McKenna, Jerry Cain, and Rol Murrow. All spent time “manning” the booth and promoting the RAF’s mission. The trip to Tampa was worthwhile to spread the word and enlist new supporters and volunteers.
The RAF BOD encourages you to continue your support of the Foundation. Your board members volunteer time and energy working for you but they can only do as much as resources will allow. The challenges ahead are many. Let’s keep up the momentum.
Submitted on November 7, 2009.