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Making a Difference in Your Community

No where is it more true than in aviation....An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

When the group vigilance of a local chapter is established, it is much easier to not only stay alert to "airport issues" but to shape the discussion before problems arise. It is too easy to find the statistics that identify the loss of airports and operation flexibility to development, noise reduction campaigns and zoning actions.

It isn't possible for any individual to attend every planning committee, city council or county commission meeting to monitor or speak to aviation related interests. That is one of the benefits of belonging to (or forming) a local chapter. Many pilots are local business people and already have contacts with local officials. Take advantage of those connections and consider having a local politician address the chapter as a guest speaker.

Too many times, the mayor, city manager, city planner and council members meet pilots for the first time during the last public comment phase for a poorly crafted ordinance. If the local pilots are more visible to their community and have met the "city fathers" during non-controversial times, the approach taken to airport and aviation issues will be in the form of invitations to serve on advisory commitees or task forces. The opportunity to educate and shape policy are closer than you think. When the community involvement is spread amongst several members of a chapter, the job becomes easier and the community understands that there are more pilots out there than they may have thought.


Getting the chapter in the loop

Some ways local chapters have become involved are:

  • joining the Chamber of Commerce

  • updating the local Emergency Management Plan, focussing on aviation aspects

  • serving on planning commitees, for airports, transportation & comprehensive municipal development

  • OPA members as commissioners or councilmen

Remember to have fun! It's not all politics and committee meetings!

Get the chapter involved or visible to the community in other ways too.

  • sponsor an ad in the local High School year book

  • sponsor a flying magazine subscription for the local library or after school program

  • co-sponsor a breakfast or dinner event with another local group (Rotary, Optimists, etc.

  • give a local reporter a ride over an event (TFR's permitting)

  • enter a float in a local parade, add children from a local school

  • fly Santa to town

  • help local scouting organizations or home schoolers to learn about aviation

  • help the Department of Aviation by volunteering to help with traffic count data


AOPA Air Support Network

As with any avocation, aviation enthusiasts find themselves members in several aviation organizations. One resource that should not be overlooked is the AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers. If you don't know your local AOPA ASN volunteer, make an effort to find out who this person is and make sure that the OPA can synergize with these like-minded individuals. OPA chapters can count their local ASN as an ally for aviation.

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