Alphabets Collaborate for Aviation’s Future

By Scott Spangler on August 21st, 2012

Less than a decade ago, when the symptom’s of aviation’s decline were firmly manifested, a number of aviation’s alphabet organizations focused mostly on increasing their slice of a shrinking pie. With the number of active pilots and new pilots shrinking faster than Greenland’s glaciers, it seems that they have finally decided to put their individual interests in line and address the problems as a cooperative, unified front.

AV0-7That’s a good start, because the the problems, from the pilot population to airspace challenges to user fees and other restrictive elements, are too many for one organization to battle on their own. During EAA AirVenture 2012, the heads of (in alphabetical order) Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) gathered on stage to discuss cooperative efforts.

EAA is clearly an active instigator in this effort, a point made clear at its AirVenture Learn to Fly Discovery Center. EAA and the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) have some history, as does the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) and NAFI. Yet here are all three working together to present a pilot proficiency program every day during AirVenture.

From its founding, Women in Aviation International (WAI) has surely been aviation’s most collaborative alphabet. During AirVenture it signed a memo of understanding in which it joined forces with Learning for Life to find common ground and complement each other’s resources to promote aviation careers to youth from kindergarten through high school. WAI is encouraging its 76 chapters to form a relationship with the nearest post of Aviation Exploring, which is the career side of Learning for Life. If the WAI chapter is not one of the several dozen in a city with an Explorer post, it will encourage chapters to form one.

As he has so many times over decades, an often unrecognized catalyst of this collaborative effort is Sporty’s avuncular founder, Hal Shevers, who never misses an opportunity to promote, launch, and support aviation educational programs for youth, an effort that launched The Sporty’s Foundation. Long-involved with Aviation Exploring, he is the chairman of its committee within the national Learning for Life program.

If the aviation alphabets turn their collaborative conversations into coordinated strategic and tactical action aimed at a specific problem that affects all in aviation, without duplicating the efforts of another organization, then all aspects of flying have a future. –Scott

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