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Baker has found no shortage of platforms to tell the GA story this year, as the industry continues to play a critical role in filling many of the nation’s transportation needs, including those to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
In the interview with Karlgaard, himself a pilot, Baker addressed GA’s critical role, AOPA’s continued efforts to protect the freedom to fly, and the need for a more diverse industry.
Highlights of the conversation:
GA’s overall health
“General aviation is in a mini-boom right now. We’ve seen flights as measured by some of the top 77 airports up 10, 15 percent. Anecdotally, we hear of fuels sales and certain FBOs up over 60 percent… General aviation is seeing lots of use for lots of reasons. And, try finding a used aircraft for sale!”
AOPA’s role in championing BasicMed
“BasicMed is a true example of when our association leads and pulls together the community, and speaks to the representatives in the House and Senate, and said, ,we need a law changed,.’ because for 40 years, we have been requesting to get something done with the FAA, which is an alternative means to comply with the medicals. The medicals went into place in the 30s and 40s, and were really driven around… commercial and military flight. The same standards don’t apply when you’re flying yourself or your family…. We put through a law and it’s now three years … over 58,000 people are flying under BasicMed. … It’s been really exciting to see…That shows the essence and power of our community.”
The value of local airports
“Of the 5,000 airports in the country, the airlines serve less than 400 of them. … We spend a lot of time with the locals at the state level, and we have seven regional managers at AOPA, for allocating whatever the state funds could be to get matched by the FAA funds, to make sure these airports are getting their runways coated, and painted… instrument approaches upgraded—all those kinds of things that keep that infrastructure alive, which is unique in the world. There’s not another place in the world that has this kind of access.”
The need for greater diversity and inclusion in aviation
“The first and most important piecewas to create a high school curriculum for aviation in the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and now being tested this year will be the twelfth grade. … We started
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