AOPA Leaks Details of New-Pilot Initiative

Former AirVenture producer to lead effort.

AOPA has quietly launched a new action effort aimed at keeping pilots flying. The initiative, dubbed the Center to Advance the Pilot Community, will launch soon — we’re guessing that will happen at AOPA Summit, which takes place early next month in Palm Springs, California.

Named to lead the new division within AOPA is former Experimental Aircraft Association VP Adam Smith, who led the production of AirVenture for several years up through the 2010 show. Smith, who is a private pilot working on an instrument rating, will be charged with helping AOPA stop the decline in certificated pilots in the United States while finding ways to stimulate growth in the industry as well. Smith is well known in GA for his contagious enthusiasm for light GA as well as his ability to successfully pull off big jobs in big ways. In addition to his work making AirVenture a hit during his tenure, Smith also served as head of the Experimental Aircraft Association's museum and led its fundraising efforts.

Some of the work AOPA has already begun, such as its pilot retention program, will be rolled into the auspices of the new Center, while others, including a series of field guides to flight training, will be brand new products.

“What we have learned so far gives us hope for the future,” said AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller, “and has been the impetus behind the creation of the Center. But there is much more to do. We see a future that includes a more robust pilot community in which more people earn pilot certificates, pilots are more active and the flying lifetime of pilots is extended.”