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Fly-In speaker encourages people to ‘get out and fly’

CHASE BOTTORF/THE EXPRESS Thomas Haines spoke about his work as a journalist in the aircraft industry at Saturday’s banquet that concluded this year’s Sentimental Journey Fly-In.

LOCK HAVEN — The 35th Sentimental Journey came to a close with a special presentation by Thomas Haines from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) located in Maryland. He gave an in-depth flight review, updating guests, predominately pilots, on the current world of aviation and the impact that the association has with it. He included positive breakthroughs and current projects that the AOPA have been working on extensively in the benefit of pilots and aviation enthusiasts.

Haines, a native of Pennsylvania, is both the current Editor-in-Chief and Senior Vice President of Media for the association. They are two titles of prowess that have grown since his instatement with AOPA in 1988 as an Associate Editor. He currently oversees the publication of multiple magazines including AOPA’s main magazine, “Pilot,” which stands as the world’s largest aviation magazine; the weekly AOPA newsletter, “ePilot;” the association’s video-on-demand channel, AOPA Live; and “Flight Training” magazine for student pilots and flight instructors. He has also appeared on a multitude of news medias such as NBC, CNN, and MSNBC as well as being quoted in “The Wall Street Journal,” “Newsweek,” and “Businessweek.”

According to Haines, general aviation is currently a 2.7 billion dollar industry and is still growing. With as huge of an industry that aviation has constructed and continues to grow, AOPA is working in full with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to improve the industry and promote a better commitment with current and future pilots.

“We want to inspire people to learn to fly and also use their airplanes to get out to fly and find out new places to go,” he said involving the importance of the association’s media publications that help keep current and future pilots informed and updated on the frontlines of many aviation endeavors. The association currently has implemented over 650 new flying clubs over the last few years that help educate new pilots as well as creating a financially friendly way to get involved.

“We have over 650 flying clubs that have started over the last few years. On top of them, we have over 900 other clubs that already have existed and are apart of the AOPA network. We have a full-time staff that supports each of the clubs and work with them closely. We help with legal advisement, regulations, IRS issues that they may have to deal with, etc.,” explained Haines.

Of the programs that AOPA has incorporated into their association, the You Can Fly program, a significant student program, promotes and helps new student pilots who are looking to go into the world of aviation and are looking into becoming pilots themselves. The association gives away 1.1 million dollars in flight scholarships to students annually said Haines. Approximately 8,000 students are currently involved with the association, getting trained in preparation for flight school.

“The program promotes students to get more into aviation and keep them involved for financial reasons. The You Can Fly program includes flight training and marketing toward financially friendly outlets for ambitious young pilots or students looking to get into aviation,” he added.

The association also tries to educate the media on aviation, enlightening reporters on what goes on in the industry, the versatility, and generally what is happening currently in its realm and the future of it. Not only are reporters informed, Haines says that they work closely with local legislators and communities to build strong relationships and to help promote an improved sound of mind when it comes to laws and public interest of aviation.

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