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Letter of the Week: EAA's Vision
As president of a large EAA chapter (1114, Apex, NC, 170+ members), I'm commenting on the short video of the interview between outgoing and incoming EAA presidents:
Rod [Hightower] really said nothing other than he intends to follow an existing plan. Probably the correct thing to do given his scant knowledge of the organization.
I have never before heard of the EAA's strategic plan, despite being an officer of EAA and IAC chapters since 1996. Does anyone have access to this?
AirVenture, LSA/SP, and Young Eagles remain the jewels of the EAA. Mogas STC was also once a major accomplishment, but the EAA now appears to follow the AOPA on its "one size fits all" 100-octane dictate. Hopefully Rod will review past accomplishments that have fallen by the wayside and revive them.
EAA membership is shrinking, and many chapters are essentially dead. International members are largely ignored, and nearly all European chapters are inactive or dead. The EAA needs regional/international directors to serve as spark plugs to keep things alive and fresh. These ought to be paid according to growth in membership, just like any good business would do. Their weekends would be spent in the trenches with the troops, i.e. at meetings, fly-ins, etc.
Hope to see the new president attend some chapter meetings, the true heart and soul of our organization.
Did others notice that Tom Poberezny was wearing a logo cap that used the old biplane logo? Its increased use was obvious at Oshkosh this year. What's up with that? No objections, but it would be nice to know what the future logo will look like. Retro?
The joint appearance of Rod Hightower and Tom Poberezny seemed a bit awkward to me, in need of some "cockpit coordination." I think viewers wanted to hear the "vision thing" and got the "strategic plan thing," which certainly isn't the same.
To thrive, I think the EAA is going to have to become more of an advocacy organization like the National Rifle Association than the feel-good non-profit built around the Pobereznys, which is its character today.
The challenges of fuel, flying costs, regulation, new pilot recruitment, training, retention, and headwinds from the current political culture are simply too great.
However, perhaps being a once-a-year festival promoter and glossy magazine publisher will be a satisfactory business model. I don't think so, but that's what I took away from the joint appearance.
Hightower should do what ever he can to expand self-certified medical to Recreational Pilot or Private Pilot. This would be a tremendous help to the pilot population which would benefit everyone.
Why wouldn't it make sense to eliminate the third-class physical requirement for general aviation VFR flight? If it's safe enough for the pilot of an LSA to qualify with a valid driver's license, what is any different for smaller general aviation aircraft under VFR conditions?
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