Incoming AOPA President Craig Fuller Takes The Reins
by ANN Associate Editor Scott Evans
Chairman of AOPA's Board of Trustees Bill Trimble led off the
third and final General Session of the 2008 AOPA Expo Saturday,
praising outgoing AOPA President Phil Boyer's vision and
accomplishments during his 18 years of service.
Facing "challenges that would have overcome most
organizations... an attack on our homeland greater than Pearl
Harbor that grounded the fleet…an energy crisis that left
avgas at over six dollars a gallon…an ever-shrinking pilot
population... a Federal government bent on implementing costly user
fees... and tragic aircraft accidents... Phil Boyer posted a heck
of a lot of victories," Trimble said.
"The current situation reflects an incredible legacy including a
robust war chest for AOPA and ASF: 415,000 members strong, product
liability reform, FSS reform, Airport Safety coast to coast,
award-winning Online Safety Courses, Airport Watch and many, many
"After compiling such a record and leaving our association in
such incredible shape, many would be content to just declare
victory and move on. Not so for our Phil Boyer. He works harder and
smarter than anyone I've ever known. He is passionate about general
aviation. He has won the admiration of so many, including the
aviation industry as a whole -- all who live and breathe GA, our
members and this board.
"Last but not least, he has won the admiration of AOPA's
employees and the respect of government officials - Federal, state,
and local. There are few words that can adequately describe Phil
Boyer, but I choose one... and that is superb," Trimble said.
Boyer received a sustained standing ovation as he took his place
at the podium. Describing the transition time during his last year
in office, Boyer (below) said, "You'd think after all he said, that
this would be easy going, coasting through the year, doing more
pilot town meetings, getting to say goodbye to so many of you, but
that hasn't been the case.
"And it hasn't been the heavy lifting in Washington, because
nothing's happened in Washington almost the whole year, which is
probably good for GA. But it's been working on some of our flight
plan for tomorrow. So, we've aptly title today's session
'Tomorrow,' and it's really about planning for the future.
"So, while everybody was doing their regular jobs at AOPA, on
top of that, the president was working on tomorrow and insisting
that they be looking ahead and not just be working on today," Boyer
A flight bag positioned prominently on the stage symbolized the
baton to be handed to incoming AOPA President Craig Fuller. Boyer
said, "I want to put some things in that flight bag that I want to
turn over to the new pilot that will use that bag," and discussed
several investments into the future.
The most prominent example is AOPA's newly revamped Internet
Flight Planner, designed to be compatible with all popular computer
operating systems. Boyer said the robust program, developed in
partnership with Jeppesen, features overlays with terrain, weather,
and TFRs, and is fully integrated with AOPA's Airport
AOPA's partnerships with Embry-Riddle, the University of North
Dakota, and most recently with Middle Tennessee State University
not only facilitate the education of students in aerospace
programs, but the alliance is also an effective membership
recruitment tool for AOPA.
Formally announcing the AOPA Foundation and the launch of "Let's
Go Flying," Boyer reaffirmed AOPA's commitment to grow the pilot
population. AOPA Executive Vice President of Development Harvey
Cohen detailed fund raising efforts to support the Foundation,
giving an updated total of over $25 million raised.
To wrap up the session, Boyer then introduced AOPA
President-elect Craig Fuller, who graciously said that the
opportunity "to take my professional passions, and now put those to
work on behalf of something that's been a part of my life for 40
years, general aviation, is frankly a blessing beyond anything I
"It's been a wonderful few weeks during this transition, it's
been great to be here," Fuller said.
"Thanks to you, as members, for the support you have given the
organization, for the personal support you have given me in this
last week, and for the chance to work with you over the course of
the years ahead in making sure aviation is as exciting looking
forward as it has been for all of us in the past."