View Full Version : AOPA the way forward, A Woomera perspective

1st Mar 2003, 14:50
AOPA, the way forward.

It is not normal for PPRuNe to associate itself editorially with any particular issue or organisation except where the overall good and interests of our aviation family are at real risk and need universal support.

This instance requires an exception.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots pretty much covers ALL of us here and the lack of an “association” or common voice to the Public, Government, Regulator and Decision Makers would clearly be to our mutual disadvantage.

There would be some who could argue, that the current situation is difficult but with a lot of goodwill and a fresh-ish Board it will, eventually, sort itself out.

Others could argue that the organisation is moribund.

It may be that both views for the moment, are correct.

What is certain is that the root cause, is the significant loss of membership over the years, which has brought it to the parlous state of today.

How can a vigorous organisation with a large and truly representative membership that was respected and whose views were once an integral part of Government and Regulation come to this state of membership and relative irrelevance and impotence in such a short time?

Some would argue that the “hijacking” of the organisation and the highly political use of its membership and funds by certain high profile adventurers for their own personal agenda was the beginning of the end.
They would argue that only in Australia could an individual who failed to get his agenda operating whilst the most senior Public Servant of the Regulator, use his personal wealth and “profile” to conduct a guerrilla war against his former employer by the abovementioned process, to “save us”.

The subsequent physical disappearance from this particular field of battle of a former President with a flick pass to his partner in this endeavour and successor says much.
It does not mean that his influence has disappeared.
The subsequent appearance of a ‘competing’ organisation privately funded by a former President says more.

Others would argue that these actions were in fact necessary and that failure to act would be fatal to our interests.
They would argue that the situation was so desperate that somebody had to do something or we would “all be ruined”, with much bombast and a rhetoric that was alien to the manner in which the organisation had previously and successfully gone about its business.
They would argue that this was necessary to wake up everybody, to the presence of an “enemy”.

The portrayal of the Government or the Regulator in whatever guise it has been operating, as “the enemy”, is not what one would consider a constructive direction, nor conducive to the form of dialogue necessary to ameliorate whatever “wrongs”, “the enemy” had or was proposing.
It is a well worn tactic to demonise your opponent in battle as a rallying cry in order not only to drive your troops on to the guns, but have them do so enthusiastically.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it.

Whichever side was right or wrong, is not now the point.

Who was or is responsible for the current low membership, is not now the point.

The membership had already voted with their feet at the very time when money and support was really needed during the Mobil problem, which further eroded the position.

Without a strong membership and therefore strong interest in the daily goings on, it became possible for certain individuals to gain high office that they would not, in the ordinary course of events, have been able to do so.
The damage from those events on top of the previous adventurers efforts have rendered the organisation, for the most part, inconsequential in matters aviation.

The efforts of the most recent Presidents and Board have been remarkable given the situation they inherited and their lack of an effective support base.

Some would argue that they have not represented important issues properly, or, that that they have been too much of a “one man band”, or, that they have lacked “finesse” in their dealings with Government, Regulator and Members.

They, I suspect and I, would argue that that may be so, but that if you disagreed you only had to become a member, or rejoin to be heard, nominate yourself for the positions and exercise your democratic rights.

If you are the last men standing, you can only fight with what you’ve got.

The members’ reasons over the years for not renewing, rejoining or joining prior may well have been justified, then.

In the political arena where there is a clear choice of “parties” a “swing of the pendulum” one way or the other may change the government or cause a change in its demeanour but the political base and organisation remains intact to operate for the benefit of the whole. That is the way life operates.

In AOPAs’ case the gyration of the pendulum in regard to the membership’s reaction to its treatment at the hands of strolling adventurers and sometime impostors has swung it right off its fulcrum.

The issues that dominate the current debate would not be issues were there membership numbers appropriate to the number of Aircraft Owners and Pilots in this country.

It is not enough now to protest that you wouldn’t join, rejoin or renew because "so and so" is still there, when clearly "so and so" is only there because no one else will step up, either to offer an alternative, or to help.

No one could doubt the weight of the efforts or motives of the incumbents on your behalf, but they can’t do it on their own or be guided by you in the manner of their presentation, until you take personal responsibility for what is being represented on your behalf, unless you are a paid up member.

How you protect your organisation from any individuals personal agenda is with a LARGE and vigorous membership and, as our PM is wont to say, from a “broad church”.

It is self evident that LARGE membership of an organisation restores and ensures credibility in the Halls of Power and the democratic processes within it ensure that there is always healthy debate, reasoned consensus and more candidates than offices. That is the measure of a healthy organisation and denies the opportunity to opportunists to strut their stuff.
It is after all called an “Association”.

So that is where we are today, where to from here.

That is in your hands.

Some suggestions for those who may not have a background in such matters;

The quicker the membership base is returned to its earlier and proper state the easier it will be for all.
If PPRuNe D & G can boast a readership of around 10,000 there must be close to that number who should be members of the organisation that can represent them and their concerns in the places that matter.
AOPA membership numbers is very much less than this. The last number I recall was in the mid 2000’s?

I urge you to not make the mistake of believing that having a “whinge” on PPRuNe is enough and will, necessarily, change anything and therefore you have done your bit.

PPRuNe provides, gratis, a highly respected International Forum for vigorous discussion of matters aviation and perhaps a means of “keeping whoever honest”, but in and of itself cannot take any real action. on them.
Influential perhaps and there are many PPRuNers active at very high levels in their personal and professional capacity, but PPRuNe is not nor is intended to be a substitute for relevant industry representation to Government et al.
This can come only from a properly funded organisation, based as it used to be, where the decisions are made. That means your membership dues and participation.

The Board in any organisation should only be required to provide policy, direction and representation at appropriate levels. Its job is not the day to day running of the organisation and the constant putting out of bushfires.
There must be a properly funded and resourced “executive” and administration that is tasked to execute the Boards directions, research requirements and manage routine communication with Govt, Regulator and other Decision Makers, without the enervating day to day “micro-management” (interference) of some Presidents of the past.
This professional full time executive used to exist and needs to do so again, quickly.
It will not be attractive to the calibre of Directors necessary to represent you, if their precious personal time is consumed by administration matters other than consultation with you and formulation of policy.
You will not attract the calibre of executive and staff required to do this very important job unless you pay them well. That means your membership dues and participation.

Given that this vibrancy can be achieved, then the probability of any one person or group “hijacking” your organisation or trashing its reputation in one meeting with the Minister becomes sufficiently remote.

That was then this is now.

I urge you all, not already members.
It’s time, join up, rejoin or renew, pay up and take back the control of your voice, and rehabilitate its strength and reputation with those who matter lest it be controlled by the agenda of others.



1st Mar 2003, 23:45

2nd Mar 2003, 00:04
WOW Woomera

A fair balanced and accurate post.

Your words stir emotion and motivation and I hope many will hear the message. It has made me consider rejoining after many years of disbelief for EXACTLY the reasons (RHS) you mention.

I suppose that I suffer form the normal fears a single member of an organisation whose vote has but one value, by my enthusisim and values want to carry more.

I am interested to know more of the loss of members over the years. I have read that some 8000 members have left over the last 10 years. Can anyone out there provide actual figures or persenatges, because this is the fact that NO member of a board can resist. The people may well be voting already, with thier feet. Of course this vote is only heard by the one making it usually.

Thank you for an AOPA post that is worth commenting on, and a message that is worth getting out. But could you imagine PPRUNE bieng the starting ground for the revival (survival) of AOPA. Strange things DO happen.

You have me thinking, and that is a start.

2nd Mar 2003, 04:40
At last some light shines through and something worth reading thankyou woomera.:ok: :ok: :ok:

2nd Mar 2003, 08:56
While I applaud Woomera's comments and congratulate him on their clarity in summing up the present situation surrounding AOPA, the organisation has a very, very long way to go before they can hope to get my support and membership fees.

Until AOPA presents reasoned and properly researched positions on matters of crucial importance to the aviation community, demonstrates an ability to influence politicians at both a State and Federal level, respects confidences and demonstrates an ability to conduct an argument rather than shouting at people it doesn't agree with then, and only then, will they get my money.

And, in an effort to be helpful, perhaps AOPA might address the following matters of interest to the aviation community to demonstrate their ability to change and improve their standing in the community and maybe win back disaffected members.

1. A reasoned, properly researched and costed position on NAS, including critical analysis on the impact of the implementation of NAS on regional operators and private aircraft owners, an idea of how much NAS is going to cost or save the industry and an examination of any alternative airspace arrangements they may care to propose or may otherwise exist
2. Make a serious effort to keep at least Federal MPs in the information loop on aviation matters of importance to AOPA members. (Questions for AOPA - a. Are any Federal MPs paid-up members of AOPA? b. Does it supply copies of the AOPA magazine to Federal MPs? c. How many Federal MPs have or had pilots licences?
3. A coherent and legally defensible accounting policy and full disclosure of past accounting practices.

It has been my experience that to win the support of people those seeking that support must first demonstrate their ability and expertise before people will give them money.

The present and past performance of AOPA has not demonstrated this vital and simple principle to potential members

Disclaimer: I have never been a member of AOPA

2nd Mar 2003, 10:42
Well said.

Just to touch on tsnake.

Until AOPA presents reasoned and properly researched positions on matters of crucial importance to the aviation community, demonstrates an ability to influence politicians at both a State and Federal level, respects confidences and demonstrates an ability to conduct an argument rather than shouting at people it doesn't agree with then, and only then, will they get my money

Need money and members to do this As Woomera said

And, in an effort to be helpful, perhaps AOPA might address the following matters of interest to the aviation community to demonstrate their ability to change and improve their standing in the community and maybe win back disaffected members. 1,2 and 3.

Need money and members to do this As Woomera said

tsnake , you have hit upon the very problem, you have never been a member, yet you want to sit around and watch other peoples money work for you, and then when it is safe, Join? Class act!!!

Elections soon, join and vote! or join and nominate!


2nd Mar 2003, 13:16
Well said Woomera...!! Perhaps you should nominate for the Board?

:) :)

3rd Mar 2003, 03:24
I am closing this thread and leaving it stickied, FYI.

Please address your comments to the "AOPA elections", thread in the GA Forum.

Cheers and thanks for your kind comments but there are too many of us Woomera for you guys to handle.:eek: