John Baker, Former AOPA President, Passes Away

An often irreverent and always passionate advocate for general aviation, John Baker passed away last week at his home in Angier, North Carolina. Baker served as president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association from 1977 to 1990, and was known as a tireless and devoted champion of the cause. His efforts are credited with a number of initiatives favoring GA, including equitable distribution of the Aviation Trust Fund; facing the challenges of increasingly onerous airspace restrictions (he was AOPA president at the time of the fateful Cerritos, California, collision between a single-engine aircraft and an Aeromexico Boeing 727); he fought the proposed annual tax on GA aircraft; and Baker's leadership begat the AOPA political action committee. In a 1990 Business and Commercial Aviation column titled "The Never Reticent John Baker" journalist David Collogan characterized Baker's blunt nature with these words: "He not only calls a spade a shovel, he'll hit you alongside the head with it in case you weren't paying attention the first time." Current AOPA President Craig Fuller said, "John Baker was an extraordinary advocate for our freedom to fly."