Hightower Updates, Challenges LAMA Members at Sebring
Rod Hightower speaks at the LAMA dinner Thursday, January 19, in Sebring, Florida.
January 26, 2012 - EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower had a challenge for members of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) as he spoke at their dinner Thursday evening in Sebring, Florida.
"I think this industry has a great opportunity for outreach to aviation enthusiasts and new pilots to help us grow the aviation community," said Hightower, who joined LAMA members during the annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring. "We all need to work together to grow participation in aviation."
Hightower's remarks also stressed the importance of the EAA chapter network and highlighted the appointment of "Miracle of the Hudson" pilot Jeff Skiles as EAA's vice president of chapters and youth education. Hightower added that the popular Chapter Leadership Academy will begin to travel around the country, with regional academies that allow more chapter leaders to participate.
EAA's newest program, Eagle Flights, will provide free introductory flights to pilots over the age of 18, and Hightower announced it will come to life later this year. He noted that recent research by AOPA showed that the greatest number of new pilots are certificated over the age of 35 and a large percentage of those pilots buy an airplane within 18 months.
Hightower also highlighted EAA's recent agreement with the Boy Scouts of America as the two groups work together to encourage youth to fly. EAA will work with the Boy Scouts' Learning For Life/Explorer Scout programs to help youths earn their aviation merit badges.
Affirming EAA's continuing commitment to engaging youth with aviation, Hightower previewed the Pathways program, a third step for Young Eagles. Pathways follows the EAA Flight Plan program, sponsored by Sporty's Pilot Shop, and helps youths earn their pilot certificates.
He also highlighted some of features and attractions planned for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012. EAA will honor the greatest generation of aviators, including the Doolittle Raiders and the Tuskegee Airmen. (George Lucas' movie Red Tails about the Tuskegee Airman opens nationwide Friday, January 20.) Other special programs will include a tribute to Paul and Audrey Poberezny on the 60th anniversary of EAA's founding, and a salute to the venerable J-3 Cub in this 75th anniversary year of the design.
Before the closing Q & A session, Hightower described the power of GA's "alphabet" associations joining together to advocate for aviation. "You may have noticed that some of our press releases sound like the press releases of other aviation groups," he said. "That's because EAA, AOPA, NBAA, HAI, and others have entered into a new cooperative spirit called Stronger Together. The power of all these organizations working together is significant, and we've already had a victory in the continuation of the Block Aircraft Registration Request program."