Boyer To Retire Following Distinguished 18-Year Tenure In 'Left
and it's difficult not to report it without a bit of
sadness. William C. Trimble III, chairman of the Aircraft Owners
and Pilots Association Board of Trustees, announced that AOPA
President Phil Boyer will retire at the end of 2008, after 18 years
of astutely guiding AOPA from the "left seat."
Confirming reports ANN first received this weekend, experienced
Washington public affairs executive and political insider Craig L.
Fuller (right) has been selected by the AOPA Board of Trustees
as the next president of the influential 414,000-member pilots
association, the world's largest aviation organization which
represents almost 70% of US pilots.
"Phil informed the Board some four years ago he would retire in
three years. We convinced him to continue his extraordinary
leadership of AOPA for another year," said Trimble. "Now, we must
move on, but AOPA and the entire general aviation community are in
a better place for his inspired 18 years at the controls.
"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."
AOPA chairman Bill
Trimble added, "Phil Boyer (right) transformed the Aircraft Owners
and Pilots Association into a forward-thinking and tech-savvy
leader for vastly changed times in general aviation. The GA
community will remember Phil's remarkable contributions that
prepared us for the 21st Century."
Enhancing AOPA management skills and member service, Boyer
engineered a 40% growth in membership despite the declining US
pilot population. His many new ventures funded novel GA advocacy
and member benefits, all while holding AOPA annual dues at $39.
"Phil orchestrated regulatory and legislative backing for civil
aviation use of GPS satellite navigation, led consumer support for
aviation product liability reform that was decisive in Congress,
and averted onerous user fees during three FAA re-authorizations,"
"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
Boyer. "Now, it's official. I am delighted Craig will captain AOPA
on the 'next leg' of this remarkable journey to preserve and
advance general aviation."
Fuller is to take office on January 1, 2009, following formal
election at the Trustees' September Annual Meeting of Members. AOPA
states he and Boyer will be working together on the transition for
the remainder of this year.