Recent Responses To ANN Editorial Comments Suggest AOPA Is
A recent ANN editorial offering suggested that the
once-mighty AOPA was out of step with the wants and needs of its
current membership... and displayed a particular
disconnect via the constant bombardment of those persons via
commercial pitches and other money grabs. Intended to be somewhat
humorous as well as a complaint about the fund-raising tactics of
this organization, the story really set off a number of ANN readers
-- who responded -- and responded -- many hundreds in total (and
starting to look like the ultimate total may push 2000... with only
ONE response (thus far-- and a pretty rude one, to boot) taking us
to task for daring to criticize the organization -- which, frankly,
Rather than opine any further; we think YOU should be heard most
of all... here are just a few of the comments we received about the editorial that appeared, September,
22nd, 2010. And... as always YOUR continued comments,
insights, and perspectives are not just welcome but strongly
encouraged... keep your emails and other messages coming!
From William W: I thoroughly enjoyed your
"rant" on the state of the AOPA junk mailer. I think it goes
further than that. I believe AOPA has lost perspective and is no
longer an effective organization to be representing GA. The last
straw for me is with their new "wine club". I'm not paying AOPA to
run a wine club. I pay my membership dues that they can get things
moving in the right direction for GA and this is simply not
I have removed my auto membership renewal, and will let me
membership run out; at which point, I will no longer renew my
membership with them. Thank you for bringing to light the
unacceptable behavior of AOPA. They should be removed from
representing GA's best interests.
Rich S: Excellent article. It accurately
mirrors my recent thinking about AOPA. But what else should we
expect when the new AOPA leader is, or desires to remain as, a
Washington power player and insider?
Quinton H: Yes, AOPA is losing it. EAA does
much more to promote general aviation and protect my rights as a
pilot. After many years as a member of AOPA I have canceled my
membership. Go EAA.
Gilbert P: I agree. I got the one to donate to
the PAC yesterday and promptly trashed it. I too have more
important things for my elected representative to be worrying about
rather then my flying rights.
It seems since the new AOPA Pres. took over I have been deluged
with 3rd class mail wanting more money and threatening my rights to
fly. Enough is enough. I wonder is there is a way to opt out of the
mailings short of not renewing my membership. (20 year AOPA member
and only maybe 21 years).
Bruce M: Look at the annual statements. The
organization has run surpluses for years and amassed assets
seemingly far beyond needs. This and expansion into activities such
as a Wine Club looks like empire building. Oh yes, they just
announced an increase in dues.
Rick D: The fact that they are now charging
for the AOPA airport directory that was always included with the
membership AND raised the yearly dues is going to reduce there
membership by at least one person.
Jon H: I discontinued my
AOPA membership years ago when I realized that AOPA offered me no
real benefit. I could purchase non-owned insurance (back when I
needed it) for less through other sources. My AOPA credit card
which was supposed to save me money actually cost me a lot in fees
and bloated interest rates. The magazine was the only thing that I
actually enjoyed and that I could simply borrow from friends with
I'm sure AOPA is fine organization, but I don't need the junk
mail, the 23% interest rate on my credit card or AOPA to tell me
how to vote.
Paul S: This year I have not renewed my
membership and will not. I am tired of the commercialism, too.
Organizations must balance between growing members and increasing
revenue. That is, there function should not be solely to maximize
income versus sustaining a viable organization. By the way - keep
up the good work @ aero! Seldom have I interpreted prejudice in
Erik L: Thanks for calling it like you see it
Paul. Many of us feel that AOPA is out of touch or worse...
Dave B: I agree 100% with what you said, and
I'm really glad I'm not the only person on the planet who thinks
that way. AOPA does a lot of good stuff. I support the AOPA PAC and
AOPA ASF, and have for years. But they've lately turned down a bad
path. I decided not to go to the "Aviation Summit" this year
because of the direction that it has taken.
The wine club is absurd. me things are not meant to be paired
together. What they've done with planes and wine makes as much
sense as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Matzo Ball mix or BP-branded Fish
Sticks or having convicted sex offenders running a day care center.
What are they going to do next time there is a drunk GA
The big thing that makes me wonder whether I should continue to
support AOPA or not is that they've got a business jet. They're a
non-profit, constantly trying every angle to make a buck. As you
rightly point out, their junk mail is frequent and is always in
search of a check headed in their direction. Yet they continue to
have (and to me extent flaunt) the fact that they have a business
jet that eats thousands of dollars per hour. I fly a 1979 Mooney,
and often fly Southwest instead of my plane because it is just much
more cost-efficient. We're in a recession and a lot of GA pilots
can't afford to fly at all even in a cheap 152. AOPA should go get
a mid-70s 172 and fly like the rest of us do. Yeah, I know I can't
blame Fuller for this, as Boyer had the plane. But times change,
and organizations need to examine what is "right" within the
context of the current environment. If you REALLY need money to
defend GA, why can't they make the logical decision that many
corporations have made?
AOPA needs to stop drinking the fine wine and flying around in
their expensive corporate plane at my expense or they might find my
renewal next year is missing. They need a GA tea party, as the
leadership is out of touch with reality of those paying the
Thank you for being a journalist and asking the hard
Larry S: You forgot the junque mail telling me
my airplane insurance is about to expire and to get it thru AOPA.
(I made the mistake of telling them when it expires).
I, too, am strongly considering if AOPA is a ponzi-scheme or an
organization representing rank-and-file GA drivers v. those driving
around in turbine airplanes. I know it isn't but the junk mail
issue IS of concern.
James S: I am very disappointed at the
direction the AOPA appears to be heading under the new (current)
leadership. It appears that the primary interest of the current
management is finding additional methods of raising funds to
support it's friends (all of the additional staff and new
Robbie C: Hell yes they are losing it! Perfect
timing. Add to your complaint their Christmas card offers. This
year, in July, we began receiving letters from AOPA with offers for
Christmas cards. In July. And again in August and September.
I think we have 4 saved for Craig Fuller now. I have contacted
AOPA about this very issue previously, and while I am no tree
hugger, I can tell you - AOPA does not get the message.
John M: Having been a
member of AOPA for over 30 years, AARP for 10 years, EAA for 25
years, NRA for 40 years, I think you may be losing it dear
publisher. Speaking of "sheeple" you seem to be myopic in your
views also. Everyone, candidates, politicians, every alphabet
organization, boys clubs, girls clubs, YMCA, AC/DC and gay rights
folks…. ALL WANT MY MONEY. So, who gives a flip!? YOU!? Why
do you care about me? Just what have YOU done for
me…..nothing. Nothing at all. BUT, even with all the hype
and pitch for money, the AOPA sure as hell has kept my sorry butt
flying. I flew with my father off of the grass at Schenectady Co.
airport in the 50s. I flew a cub solo at 16. I saw how knee jerk
reactions from moron politicians nearly ended general aviation
after the Cerritos midair. And now, under the guise of "national
security" the idiots in TSA would love to ground all private
The AOPA as most of the alphabet groups, are the ONLY way the
lunatics in Washington will listen to me. If not for AMA (American
Modelers Association), AARP, AOPA, EAA, or ANY organization of
folks with like mind set, we could not protect ourselves from the
elite, disgustingly wealthy, narcissistic lunatics in Washington.
So we must band together to make a unified front. I recall Bill
Clinton and then our hero Obama call for an end to the government
being influenced by "special interest groups." Just who are
"special interest groups?" ME! I'm a special interest group! So is
my wife, a teacher, my doctor, my tax accountant, my dentist. All
belong to or sign up with a special interest group. People who must
band together to be noticed by politicians are "special interest
groups." So when the politicians preach…"end the special
interest group influence in Washington" what they are saying is
…end listening to the people.
And, dear publisher (who ever you really may be) it takes cash.
Policy in Washington is run on money, nothing else. There are no
noble politicians, no noble goals based on right, justice, and the
American way as we saw on Super Man. Money talks, noble causes
walk. So, yeah, I get flyers, mailings, etc. for this and for that.
Who gives a damn, AOPA does work for me and they are effective.
Otherwise the United States would be one, big, freakin Class B
airspace where only the money grubbing airlines fly. So, get your
myopic head out of your butt and look at the big
picture….try it ….you'll like it. Oh one more thing.
So you had never known that aviation advocacy and alcohol sales
were an appropriate mix, huh? Well, sex in the white house oval
office, corruption in politics, and narrow-minded editors and
aviation publications mix, so why not wine & aviation advocacy?
Just because I like a really nice glass of wine with my fish, does
that mean I fly drunk? I mean..just how stupid is that kind of
thinking? Wait….you've already demonstrated that. G'day
Kenneth R: For me AOPA lost its path several
years ago. I haven't been a member for 4 years, since my plane was
totaled in a runaway taxi accident by some jerk that didn't check
his brakes before he started his engine.
AOPA seems to be totally focused on the wealthy pilots that can
still afford the latest and greatest gadgets and aircraft. In my
world they are irrelevant. I closed my avionics business 2 years
ago due to the economic downturn, and I no longer fly. I don't even
care to renew my medical. This, after a 40 year career of business
and personal flying.
Todd A: Thanks for putting this in writing,
because it's exactly what I've been thinking for quite awhile.
Greg S: I did contact AOPA when they came out
with their "wine club". I told them I felt it was inappropriate for
them to be pushing wine sales. Not that I don't mind a nice glass
of wine or two, but where does their effort to raise money stop?
They'll end up like the EAA, where they have to raffle off the keys
to the farm to feed the cash cow to pay for a bunch of programs
that have minimum appeal.
Gerald D: Yes, this wine club thing is about
the last straw.
Lisa S: In addition to all
the other issued, you missed mentioning the AOPA Christmas card
sales packages which encourage you to select from about 10
different full-size holiday cards with aircraft/holiday themes. The
package requires half a tree to produce and one year I received no
less than six of these packages of cards. I think AOPA is selling
its member list or "sharing" it with business partners for a fee. I
no longer pay for an AOPA membership - why should I if they are
going to sell me out?
Those lists have become profit centers and many companies (banks,
insurers, retailers, etc.) inform you that they will share your
information with their "business partners" unless you opt out. The
problem is that the business partners turn out to be half the
world. I let my membership in AARP membership lapse as well because
I got tired of receiving mountains of junk mail from their
so-called business partners.
It just seems wrong for organizations to which I pay membership
fees to profit from the private information with which I have
John D: the NRA is even worse. I get weekly
appeals to save my second amendment rights for only 25/50/75/ or
100 dollars. I am a life member too. Its getting really bad and my
recycle can is getting really full. I no longer send money to
ANYONE. Who knows where its really going. Some of the organizations
are set up only to try to get donations and I think they are
just scams. I don't have time to figure out who they are. I am
taking the simplistic approach.
Marty: I listened to the 9.20 Aero-Briefing
and heard your segment about AOPA. I have to say I agree with it,
and have some extra comments, as well. I've always been annoyed by
their constant nagging to renew that seems to start about a week
after I renew. That, and the bushels of junk mail I get from
"others" that are obviously sourced from AOPA.
About three months before my due date I started getting calls on
my business line from an unknown 800 number. I don't answer those
calls, since it is usually telemarketers. If they don't leave a
message, I don't call back. It got to the point where this same 800
number was calling three times a day, every day. Finally I called
it back and it was some outsourced call center trying to get me to
renew my AOPA membership three months early.
To add icing to the cake, I leave you with this. When I asked AOPA
about what they were doing about the disastrous legislation passed
in California that will kill general aviation, they said contact
their California liaison. I contacted that person, who said they
were doing "something" about it, and sent me a link. The link was
to an article on AOPA's website that said "AOPA, NBAA (and some
other alphabet groups) were 'taking action'".
What action? Any specific examples? Any way we can help? Isn't
this what AOPA is supposed to do, or are they too busy pre-selling
the bottom line and pimping the mailing lists to care?