NATA is off to a great start in 2014 and there’s much activity to update our membership on.
We’re thrilled with the arrival of Bill Deere as our Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs. Bill brings a wealth of Washington policy experience with him. He comes to NATA from the U.S. Telecom Association and did previous stints at the Department of State as a Deputy Assistant Secretary responsible for Senate liaison, two tours at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in their government affairs shop and also as a member of the staff of Iowa Representative Jim Lightfoot. It was here that Bill gained valuable expertise working with the House Appropriations Committee. This experience will serve NATA and our members well as we approach key legislation, including the upcoming reauthorization of the FAA. Bill and his lovely wife, Theresa, reside in Silver Spring, Maryland, so Bill is very much looking forward to an easier commute with our move to Washington.
Speaking of the move, we were very pleased to sell our current location last fall and are currently leasing that facility until we move. Our new location is in the heart of Washington, on Connecticut Avenue, one half block from Lafayette Park and the White House. We’ll be right across the street from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. So, if you’re in the area, please plan to stop by our new home! Our architect is designing some extra space for members to “hang their hats” when they’re in the DC area. This move is part of our strategic repositioning in Washington and will serve us well for the long term.
Here’s a quick rundown on what we’ve been working on so far this year:
• We instituted our new Member Support Level Program in January. Our aim was to “unbundle” our products and services and permit our members to have more of a choice in how they support NATA. This has been a great success and we’re seeing more and more companies select the levels of support that provide the most value for their individual businesses, all while receiving significant discounts.
• February included a meeting with Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx where we had a full discussion on NATA’s mission and the importance of General Aviation to the nation’s economy; and we offered NATA’s help in developing and implementing policies that improve aviation safety and help our members win in the marketplace. I was also fortunate to attend the Bob Hoover gala that included a dinner where several notable inductees entered the Hoover Hall of Honor, followed the next evening by a tribute and the premier of a Paramount Documentary of Bob’s lifetime achievements. Bob is a legend in our aviation world and it was an honor to join many other heroes such as astronauts Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan and Buzz Aldrin. Several key NATA members were also in attendance.
• March started off quickly with the Aviation Business and Legislative Conference. Although we were challenged by miserable weather in Washington, the event was a great success. Other visits that month included the Women in Aviation, International Conference in Orlando, a speech to the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association, and a panel at Aviation Pros Live in Las Vegas. While in Washington for a few days in between traveling, I was interviewed by the FAA’s Management Advisory Council on a wide range of issues, including the possibility of FAA structural reform, something that’s been gaining traction in Washington, D.C. policy circles.
• April began with my first visit to Sun ‘N Fun in Lakeland, Florida. It was a fabulous event! I flew down in a Saratoga and was on a Town Hall panel with the co-chair of the House General Aviation Caucus, Representative Sam Graves (MO), AOPA President Mark Baker and HAI President Matt Zuccaro.
Just last month, we were once again excited to host a fundraising event for the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) and other veterans groups at the Air Charter Summit. Last year, working with VAC’s Chairman, CEO and Founder Walt Fricke, we raised over $20,000 for this incredibly worthy organization. I am proud to report that we raised nearly $50,000 this year. As a long-serving veteran, I have a special place in my heart for these groups. I spent nearly nine years on active duty in the Navy and another eighteen in the Air Force Reserve. In fact, the week before the Air Charter Summit, I joined my Navy squadron mates from 30 years ago for a reunion in Newport, RI. Our host was the squadron’s “youngster,” who is now a Rear Admiral and President of the Naval War College. Thirty years ago in April, we lost one of the finest fighter pilots, naval officers, fathers and gentlemen I’ve ever met. Lieutenant Commander Tim Murphy died in a tragic aircraft accident during a catapult shot in the Indian Ocean in month four of a five-month cruise to the Northern Arabian Sea. Tim had a wonderful wife and four young children and it was simply devastating to all involved. His entire family joined us in Newport in June to toast a few in “Muff’s” honor and memory. For veterans, our service is mostly defined by honor, fellowship and sacrifice. This is why our support of the VAC is so exciting, heartwarming and a privilege for us all. Please give this worthy cause your support!
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