Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

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Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Formation1939; 84 years ago (1939)
FoundersP.T. Sharples
TypeNot for profit
PurposeAviation advocacy
HeadquartersFrederick, Maryland, United States
Area served
Membership (2012)
Chairman of the Board
Bill Trimble III (2005)
Vice Chairman of the Board
Darrell Crate (February 2014)
President & CEO
Mark Baker (September 6, 2013)[1]
AOPA Headquarters
An AOPA-owned Cessna Grand Caravan
A Cessna 182 panel upgrade featured in AOPA publications for the 2011 sweepstakes

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is a Frederick, Maryland-based American non-profit political organization that advocates for general aviation. AOPA's membership consists mainly of general aviation pilots in the United States.[2][3] AOPA exists to serve the interests of its members as aircraft owners and pilots and to promote the economy, safety, utility, and popularity of flight in general aviation aircraft.[4]

With 384,915 members in 2012, AOPA is the largest aviation association in the world, although it had decreased in membership from 414,224 in 2010, a loss of 7% in two years.[5] AOPA is affiliated with other similar organizations in other countries through membership in the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA).[4][6][7] In 2015, AOPA was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.[8]


The organization started at Wings Field in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. On 24 April 1932, The Philadelphia Aviation Country Club was founded at Wings Field. The country club was the location of meetings of members that founded AOPA.[9] AOPA incorporated on May 15, 1939, with C. Towsend Ludington serving as the first president.[2][3] In 1971 the organization purchased Airport World Magazine, moving its operations to Bethesda, Maryland.[10]


AOPA has several programs.

  • AOPA Foundation is AOPA's 501(c)(3) charitable organization.[11] The foundation's four goals are to improve general aviation safety (under the auspices of its Air Safety Institute), grow pilot population, preserve and improve community airports, and provide a positive image of general aviation.[12]
  • AOPA Political Action Committee is just for AOPA members. Through lobbying, it represents the interests of general aviation to Congress, the Executive Branch, and state and local governments. The AOPA PAC campaigns in favor of federal, state and local candidates that support their policies and oppose those who do not through advertising and membership grassroots campaigns.[13]
  • GA Serves America was created to promote general aviation to the public.[14]
  • Legal Services Plan/Pilot Protection Services provides AOPA members with legal defense against alleged FAA enforcement charges as well as assistance obtaining an FAA flight medical. Enrollment in Pilot Protection Services is only open to AOPA members and requires an additional payment above dues. The Legal Services Plan was combined with the former medical program in May 2012 under the name Pilot Protection Services. The Legal Services Plan was created in June 1983.[15]
  • Air Safety Institute (formerly the Air Safety Foundation) is a separate nonprofit, tax exempt organization promoting safety and pilot proficiency in general aviation through quality training, education, research, analysis, and the dissemination of information.[16]
  • You Can Fly, a program to support flying clubs, encourage best practices in flight training, get lapsed pilots back in the air (Rusty Pilots), bring AOPA's resources and expertise to pilot groups across the country, and help high school students learn more about careers in aviation. All while trying to make flying more accessible and affordable. [17]


AOPA sponsors its own Fly-In and open house in Frederick, Maryland. The yearly event started in 1991 with 125 aircraft. By 2001, the attendance grew to 760 aircraft. The event was cancelled for five years after the September 11, 2001 attacks and consequent airspace changes, but resumed in 2006.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grady, Mary (2013-08-20). "AOPA Names Mark Baker As New President". AVweb. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  2. ^ a b "none". Flying Magazine: 76. August 1945.
  3. ^ a b Komons, Nick (August 1989). "none". Air Progress. 51: 62.
  4. ^ a b "Mission and History of AOPA". Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  5. ^ IAOPA Statistical Report World Assembly, April 2012, retrieved 2012-08-01
  6. ^ IAOPA Statistical Report World Assembly, June 2010, retrieved 2012-08-01
  7. ^ "International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations". Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  8. ^ Sprekelmeyer, Linda, editor. These We Honor: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Donning Co. Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-1-57864-397-4.
  9. ^ Julie Summers (May 2014). "Where it all began". AOPA Pilot: 30.
  10. ^ "none". Air Progress: 20. September 1971.
  11. ^ "About the AOPA Foundation". Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Archived from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  12. ^ "AOPA Foundation". Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Archived from the original on 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  13. ^ "Political Action Committee". Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  14. ^ Brown, Sarah (April 20, 2009). "GA Serves America campaign to protect, promote GA". Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  15. ^ AOPA Pilot June, 1983
  16. ^ "Air Safety Institute". AOPA. Retrieved 2014-01-23.
  17. ^ "You Can Fly". Retrieved 8 May 2022.

External links[edit]