It's official... AOPA President Phil Boyer will retire in just a
few weeks and as ANN FIRST reported, experienced Washington
political insider Craig L. Fuller will take the helm of the
influential 415,000-member pilots association.
AOPA Board Chairman Bill Trimble noted that, "Starting last year
to find AOPA's next leader, a Board of Trustees search committee
hired national search firm Heidrick & Struggles to help
identify final candidates from among 597,000 US pilots. After
hundreds of interviews and painstaking review of 100 potential
candidates, it was clear that Craig Fuller, a recognized leader in
business, public affairs and association management, would be
ideally suited to carry-on Phil's tremendous legacy.
"Craig is a committed 40-year pilot, aircraft owner and AOPA
member," added Trimble. "He is as comfortable with fellow pilots
and 'hangar talk' as he is facing a Congressional committee."
Fuller left his native California in 1981 to be Assistant to the
President for Cabinet Affairs in the Reagan White House. In 1985,
he became chief of staff for Vice President George H.W. Bush,
traveling with the vice president to every state and 60 nations
Later, after working with international public affairs
organizations in Washington and Philip Morris Companies Inc. in New
York, he became president and CEO of the National Association of
Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) linking retailers, manufacturers and
suppliers in that industry. He will be leaving his current post as
executive vice-president at global public affairs and strategic
communications company APCO Worldwide in Washington to become AOPA
Fuller learned to fly at Buchanan Field in Concord, CA while
still in high school and flew with the UCLA flying club at Van Nuys
while earning a B.A. in political science. He has a Master's degree
in urban studies from Occidental College in Los Angeles, where
business travel in his early public affairs career fostered
purchase of a Cessna 172RG Cutlass based at Santa Monica. He now
logs 200+ hours a year in his Beech Bonanza A36.
He is a director of the US Chamber of Commerce, active in The Aspen
Institute and a former trustee of The John F. Kennedy Center for
the Performing Arts and the George (H.W.) Bush Presidential Library
Foundation. He and wife Karen reside in Northern Virginia just
outside Washington, DC.
"Being selected by the Trustees as only the fourth president of
AOPA in 70 years is a tremendous honor and a serious
responsibility," said Fuller. "I am fully dedicated to ensuring
that the best days of general aviation remain ahead of us. And AOPA
is ready with a strong organization bolstered over two challenging
decades by an individual we all admire."
"Moreover, he facilitated general aviation's return to the skies
following a long post-9/11 grounding by talking sense -- and
common-sense cooperative programs -- with lawmakers and security
"I have often mentioned that this day would come, on schedule,
as planned with my family and the AOPA Board of Trustees," said
Phil Boyer. "...I am delighted Craig will captain AOPA on the 'next
leg' of this remarkable journey to preserve and advance general
Fuller is to take office on January 1, 2009, following formal
election at the Trustees' September Annual Meeting of Members.