Hi all, I'm interested in your thoughts on some of the different organisations that act as support / career advice / advocacy etc, all of which seem very worthwhile but several of which seem to cover much the same ground.
I am a member of the PFA, ooops sorry, the LAA, and am very happy with the magazine I get and some of the opportunities that membership has afforded to me. Not least of which has been aircraft ownership, maintenance and self-building.
However from a professional perspective as well as a light aircraft pilot, there seem to be a wide choice - AOPA (Air Operators and Pilots Association), GAPAN (Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators), RAeS (Royal Aeronautical Society) to name three of the bigger ones, all of whom clearly provide a significant service to their members. There is also The Air League, who do great work.
For different types of flying there is BMAA, BGA, BBAC and more.
For different niches there is the BAeA, RAeC, HAA, VAC and more...
From a female perspective there is BWPA and WAI. Apparently blokes can join too, which must improve the odds significantly!
Not to mention any number of type operators clubs and museum "friends" associations.
To join even some of these groups would cost a small fortune, so I haven't. However I am interested in joining one of the first four from a more professional perspective and would value any constructive advice regarding the real benefits and opportunities. Also if there are any other obvious options that I've missed out I would be grateful.
I am a member of the LAA, at the Member Plus level, and that's great. I would recommend membership to anyone involved in light aircraft, whether Permit or otherwise, even if just for the magazine, although there is clearly much more than that for those who want to explore more.
However I am also working towards the more "professional flying" end of GA, and would like to know more about the relative opportunities the other organisations may provide. Examples include networking, contacts, special interest groups, social groups, events etc. It's one thing to read the marketing blurb and another to have some insight from people who may have personal experience of one or more of the organisations.
pboyall, thanks for your thoughts, much appreciated.
I had considered mentioning BALPA, but I've heard so much negativity about them, and also I get the impression that if you're not specifically Airline, or Airline bound, they're not interested. Perhaps these are false impressions?
I wouldnt expect too much from any with regard to opportunities albeit perhaps you will need to be more specific regarding the opportunities you have in mind.
The organisations you mention committ most of their resources to fighting ga's corner, as laudable as that is dont expect too much else in return from a personal perspective.
Aopa us so a great deal for indivdual members but aopa uk is a very different beast with a different agenda. Balpa without doubt believe their interests are with the commercial community even if even some of their members would rather balpa had not forgotten the roots of its members and aviation in general.
Some of the other do a good job within their niche and are perhaps more focused on the individual than those already mentioned.
I belong to too many! A combination of hobby-aviation, professional-aviation, and professional-engineering.
All have substantial value in their own ways, or I'd not keep paying the fees.
I don't belong to GAPAN (or it's sister the Worshipful Company of Engineers), although I've thought hard about it - at the end of the day, it would be just one association too many. But I know that many people get much from it.
Ultimately you have to decide what suits your aviation interests - but do belong to at-least one organisation, because in this world, there is much reason to belong.
Sadly, there is no single organisation that effectively represents GA as a whole. The more specialist organisations appear to be very good and represent their members well, but at the end of the day they only lobby for their own vested interest. With the half baked European burocracy about to rein havoc on GA, representation is important if not now too late. Sadly, on analysis if one organisation had not pursued its own interest with such gusto in the early 90s we would probably not be in the current mess.
AOPA here in the US are invaluable and do a lot for GA. From protecting us legally when we screw up, to representing our interest against mad legislation, to finding me insurance for my old twin when nobody else could.
I've heard AOPA Europe doesn't have the same numbers and the same might, but if their way of working and influencing is similar to their US sibling, then it's a good thing and well worth supporting.
AOPA does a lot, but I left because I found I personally was doing little other than reading the magazine. Ditto the LAA, or PFA as it was then. I've got a lot out of the BWPA in terms of networking, job advice, social activity and so on, and yes they do accept men (not just 'token' men); all you have to do is send in your sub.
But that's just my twopennorth, and probably everyone is different. However, in my experience the more you put in the more you'll get out, so it's not worth joining any unless you're prepared to go to meetings, maybe get on the committee, and so on.