My membership with AOPA expires end of this month and I'm not renewing. The truth is, they no longer serve my interests or speak my language. But EAA does.
Honestly, just who is AOPA's customer anyway? It's not me, I cannot afford anything they advertise in their magazines.
$50,000-$100,000 flight schools
$500,000 cirrus aircraft
$30,000 efis/gps systems
$40,000 factory engines
$10,000 engine monitors
mulitmillion dollar business jets
Just who are they advertising too? Certainly not to me and I’m a 22 year ATP rated former airline pilot. Just who is AOPA’s customer anyway?
And to top it off, I receive the AOPA daily email. Two of the articles I really wanted to read were blocked because I’m not a member of the legal services plan.
I understand times are tough and money is needed by an organization such as AOPA probably now more than ever. But if all you are going to be about is a voice in Washington and nothing more, be honest about it and just say so. Maybe they should change their name to AOPAC (Airplane Owners and Political Action Committee).
To be honest I've lost enormous faith in AOPA - the organization no longer represents me. As a private/instrument rated pilot and single piston aircraft owner it would appear I'm no longer within "the sweet spot" of what AOPA represents any longer. Apparently I don't spend enough on aviation to warrant representation. Said another way - I'm not a corporate flight department and I don't burn kerosene. Piston/av-gas burners have been kicked to the curb... until AOPA wants more money.
First case in point: AOPA doesn't DO anything to help resolve the av-gas issue. AOPA doesn't put experimental planes in the air to prove/disprove fuel providers claims. AOPA doesn't step up to help define a single av-gas standard or propose programs to move the ball forward. Instead, they sit idly by and leave the real work to uninterested unmotivated government bureaucrats . AOPA does nothing but attend countless, useless meetings as "hangers on" - mere strap-hangers who contribute nothing to the solution - and then expend countless column inches "reporting" on their attendance at these useless self engrandising meetings. How much of a refund can I expect on my membership dues for all the travel and expense money wasted on this "effort"? Putting the shoe on the other foot momentarily, how much would AOPA be willing pay another organization for this kind of "help"? Little to nothing would be my guess. AOPA has the bully pulpit - how about getting off the corporate couch and DO SOMETHING! As a point of reference, look back at what the EAA did during the auto-fuel STC development process - the EAA DID SOMETHING! EAA single handedly pushed the STC through to fruition - ACTION the EAA can hang its hat on.
Second case in point: AOPA has hired the medico who created/ran/enlarged the absolute nightmare that is the current pilot medical program. Can someone please explain this logic?! AOPA brought the creator of the single largest loss of pilots into an organization that's supposed to represent pilots. Help me understand this one. I have file folders filled with letters with this guy's signature on them that make zero sense, added nothing to the flying community, cost me a fortune, and kept me out of the air for years! We're now all saddled with this guy's flight medical treadmill/nightmare and AOPA holds him up as some kind of corporate asset. AOPA hired this guy to "help members navigate the current bureaucratic system". What do you say we FIRE this guy because of what HE created! I don't want to navigate HIS nightmare - I want to END IT! Give me a break...
Jim Campbell may be at either end of the political argument - quite frankly I don't care. ANN has shone a light on an organization that used to represent me and now no longer does. Kudos to ANN for breaking the silence.
AOPA - DO something - anything - to make my life as an av-gas burning, piston driven pilot better and I'll reconsider my opinion. Sending your execs, writers, contributors all over the world on my membership nickle isn't winning you any friends. How about fixing what's broke right here in the US -
AOPA - your response is more than welcome.
AOPA - Mr. fuller or whoever is reading this. After many years as an AOPA member, this is the first time I've had to reconsider renewing my membership.
I have felt like the poster above for some time now and thought maybe I was just imagining things. Sure "my" AOPA still represents me, the pilot who flies a slow, piston single. But I am seeing more and more this isn't the case. I see you guys spending money going to the Bahamas and flying neat little jets around.
Maybe it's time for me to take my membership dues, insurance and other products to somewhere else.
Or perhaps you could respond and make things right...
They'll probably ban my post for this. I kind of feel this way about Flying magazine a lot of the time. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
The truth is a lot of aviation is still focused on the rich guys. That may be part of why they are purging so many pilots/members in this economy.
There are lots of magazines out there and several other organizations other than AOPA.
Sounds like all of them don't really want my meager fees from a lowly middle class Cessna driver.
For those who haven't yet seen the announcement that AOPA has (1) ditched Sporty's after twenty or thirty some-odd years and "magically" picked up Aircraft Spruce as a "strategic partner"... I offer my note to Aircraft Spruce:
... AOPA ditches Sporty's due to political differences after twenty- or thirty-something years and suddenly Aircraft Spruce is announced as a new "strategic partner"... sounds awfully cozy to me. Aircraft Spruce is/was better than this. Poor showing.
I'm sure you're aware of AOPA's increasing slant regarding a complete lack of support for piston driven, av-gas burning GA owners/operators AND an increasing lack of transparency as to what they're doing with member's (my) dues money. Since Aircraft Spruce has chosen to get into bed with an organization that no longer represents me and my sector of aviation, please do me a favor and remove me from all of your mailing lists immediately. I will gladly support Aircraft Spruce's competitors who stand by the piston/av-gas community - I've already been sold out by AOPA and now by Aircraft Spruce. Aircraft Spruce used to enjoy my unquestioned business, now Aircraft Spruce enjoys my unquestioned disdain.
I vote with my feet and my money - both of which have left the building. Please feel free to quote me in any ongoing advertizing campaigns.
TO be honest, I've felt like AOPA changed, dramatically and for the worse, after Phil Boyer retired and was replaced by Craig Fuller. Almost overnight, AOPA's mission seemed to change to, "how much more money can we extract from our members?" Some of it was blatant, like the dues increase. Some more subtle, like the elimination of most of the (formerly) free assistance with medical issues, replaced by the (extra charge) medical services plan. Some of it was just silly (join the AOPA Wine Club and buy mediocre wines for twice what they're worth!)
Have you looked at their financials? They are a top-heavy organization with a bunch of VPs and Senior VPs making mid-six figure salaries. Nice work if you can get it. Is all that really necessary?
I feel like AOPA has lost its way and forgotten its core mission – and its core member. For the past three years, I've contemplated canceling every time my membership came up for renewal, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. Maybe the next time I will.
In my interaction with AOPA about the best thing I can say is they are nice underachievers. They talk a great story and do nothing.
I have some specific issues with the Torrance, CA airport. I had meetings with AOPA in 1991 in Congressman Packard’s office in Washington, D.C. I explained in detail the transgressions being committed by the City of Torrance in violation of the Grant's and Assurances Agreement between the FAA and the City of Torrance that controls the operation of the airport. The City was, and is to this day, in violation of that agreement. AOPA assured me they would investigate and get back to me. I never heard another word.
In more recent history I've had meetings with AOPA management folks while attending EAA Airventure where I discussed similar issues. Torrance is currently charging non Torrance residents 10% more rent on hangars than Torrance residents. This seems to me to be the definition of discrimination. AOPA told me how interested they were in getting to the bottom of this. Once again, I never heard another word.
I do have an AOPA sponsored credit card. They seem to be very good in the credit card department.
My personal score card is... AOPA advocacy in aviation related issues, score ZERO, credit card competency 100%.
Just don't speak against the All Mighty foreign Bonnier corp products or you will be voted down.
Just because I'm not a rich jet jockey and I have to fly a 30 year old Cessna doesn't mean I'm not entitled to criticize the publication that I have loved and supported for 35 years!
What would J. Mac say about all of this!
I am done with AOPA no renewal for me after 20 years. I have to give all of my support towards the EAA they helped push through the Sport Pilot Rating, I am banking that they will be major influence on the 3rd Class Medical issue.
Jim Campbell's ANN is a source of information that always raises up a ruckus with the EAA and AOPA, if he did not bring up issues we would not be having this conversation.
I have to tall you I do not even think Flying magazine would raise this sort of issue, but they give us an outlet to comment by that is why I am a Flying Magazine supporter.
Let's not forget EAA has had their own internal issues as well, no organization is perfect.
It looks like AOPA is it starting to think "Big Business". Phil Boyer has got to be rolling his eyes. I miss Phil Boyer and his town hall meetings that he had in Marietta, Georgia, those meetings were always full of Pilots at a large local hotel.
So go Jim Campbell at ANN, go EAA, go Flying Magazine and GO Sporty's I have been a customer for 20 years, AOPA really shot themselves in the foot on that one. I cannot remember ever doing business with Aircraft Spruce maybe once years ago.
When I read the AOPA report on why the pilot population is declining, I found it laughable! Anyone that's been around aviation more than a few months knows that cost is the biggest issue in aviation and medical is number 2. Why then does AOPA think it's an issue with training?? Wow! are their heads that far under a rock.
Flying was a childhood dream of mine that I was not able to achieve until I was in my fifties. And I must say that for the majority of pilots, we fly for fun. Just regular working class people that enjoy the thrill of being in the air. Aviation is/has pushed us out. The cost of buying, maintaining, and even flying have crossed over into the realm of ludicrous and no one that represents us seems to care.
I signed up with AOPA when I was a student pilot and have remained there since. I do however feel they have forsaken this little piston pilot for greener pastures. I'm a member of AOPA, EAA and I subscribe to Flying and Plane and Pilot magazine.... all are seeking the same corporate sponsors and all, in reality, could not care less about us little guys.
Remember the golden rule: He who has the gold.... rules!
Look up Campbell's past. Then judge. I happen to believe in the AOPA most of the time.
I retain my membership with AOPA and renew every year. I have also donated money to them to help support their programs. I enjoy getting info from them, their flight planner is very convenient, they were helpful when I was purchasing an airplane for the first time this past year, they helped me secure cheap insurance, they helped me secure a low interest rate loan for the plane with Bank of America. These are all good things for pilots/owners.
However, I DO feel under represented by AOPA as a piston driver. I am absolutely in love with aviation. Specifically general aviation. AOPA needs to cater more to people like me (oh, BTW, we are probably the majority). I don't have a ton of money. I cant afford just about anything they put in their magazine. Flying Magazine is just as bad though..... $500,000+ airplanes.... yeah, ok, how about helping to find a way to make aviation more affordable. They (AOPA) are always saying they want to increase the pilot population and have done studies on how to make training more effective, etc, etc. You want to know the answer? Its $$$$$. If learning to fly didn't cost $7,000-$10,000 (if your lucky) and airplanes cost less, and fuel cost less, and avionics (holy crap are avionics expensive) were cheaper. More people would not only learn to fly, but more people would own airplanes. But companies like Cessna don't even care about piston drivers. You know the jigs that are used to build the 172 have been paid off decades ago and that the time it takes to build one and the materials are not even close to the $300,000 they charge for a new one. But, because it doesn't even make the bottom line of the report the CEOs get at the end of the month when they are focuses on selling Lattitudes and Longitudes they just dont care, and thats what has happened to AOPA. They are focused on the people with the money. Not people like me. If your airplane didn't cost $500,000 or more, AOPA says "wait in the back of the line".
During this time of declining pilots and increasing demand for pilots, shouldn't the focus be on what EVERYONE is doing to fix that problem versus who's cutting in to who's bottom line?
This all seems petty, and with FLYING doing reviews on Hawker 4000s, Cirrus SR22 GTSs, Corvalis TTxs, and a variety of other out-of-reach aircraft; isn't this a bit of pot-kettle debate?
rdugger, aopa is careful to check the temperature of many issues with their online poles, but they don't routinely check their own temperature. They are not the only "service provider" as you say in town. I'm not faulting aopa for their business practices other than to say I wish they were more honest about their actual purpose, that being catering to a more elite crowd. I'm just choosing a new "service provider" that more closely matches my grass root views.
The comments by propsync and N3922B above hit the nail on the head. This is precisely why I did not renew my subscription to Flying and refuse pay AOPA membership dues.
The AOPA (and Flying Magazine) no longer care about the middle class, barely-able-to-afford-flying, GA pilot. Sure, it's fun to read an article reviewing the newest, coolest aircraft...but, how about something every once in a while about how to maintain currency on a shoestring budget. The decline in pilots can be directly attributed to the costs...yet, the de facto defender of GA (AOPA) and publications whose subscriber base are middle-class dreamers (Flying Magazine) do nothing to help cut those costs or help GA pilots find better, less expensive ways to fly.
I can't speak to AOPA other than their desire to remain financially strong is quite reasonable. What organization would not?
But as for Campbell's comments on Austin-Bergstrom, he has only one thing correct. Fuel is expensive. Blame that on a city intent on raping GA pilots via fuel taxes.
As for KAUS being unfriendly to GA... Campbell has his head somewhere the sun has likely never shined nor will it unless someone does to him what he's attempted to do to others in several of his overreaching commentaries. I fly out of Austin and I have taught out of Austin. For such a busy Class Charlie airport, they are amazingly friendly and very helpful to all of GA, including student pilots.