The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association exists to enable pilots to fly. They accomplish this by advocacy, providing aviation education, and ensuring that general aviation stays accessible. The organization has offices in Maryland, Washington DC, and Kansas.
“AOPA’s success is proof that the public good can be served while individual freedoms are preserved.” – Excerpt from AOPA Vision Statement
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1939. Before the organization was incorporated, a deal was struck with Popular Aviation magazine to run a special section for AOPA organization members. The organization was required to get 2,500 members within the year to maintain the deal. Membership was at 2,000 at the end of the first year.
One of associations largest goals was to work with the government to protect the rights and interests of pilots. The Civilian Pilot Training Program government subsidy was heavily promoted by the AOPA to the US Senate, the program would later enable WWII aviation training. With the increase of commercial airline flights and airport building, airspace became crowded. Communication between aircraft operators wasn’t sufficient, mid-air collisions occurred between commercial pilots and private aircraft operators and hobbyists. AOPA worked to ensure that non-commercial pilots still had the ability to fly while keeping highly trafficked areas safe.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association website launched in 1995. Two years later, AOPA formed the airport Support Network Program to place volunteer representatives at public-use airports. The representatives assist with local airport issues. AOPA purchased the Flight Training magazine publication, Flight Training website, and launched ePilot weekly newsletters in 1999.
The organization has continued working tirelessly to help pilots obtain certificates and collaborating with the FAA on pilot-related issues. The AOPA Air Safety Institute began offering a free aeromedical online course through the FAA. The association supports future pilots by offering the You Can Fly high school aviation scholarship, the proceeds are awarded to students seeking an initial pilot license. To further education, the association releases countless tips and flight training videos to support pilot safety and education.