What good is my AOPA membership?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by wbarnhill, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. wbarnhill

    wbarnhill Final Approach

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    The time came again that I was asked for that yearly donation of AOPA dues, and unfortunately I was paying off a debt and couldn't get to it, so right now my AOPA membership is void. Now that I do have some cash flow again, I've begun to think:

    What purpose does the AOPA membership have for me?

    I don't get to attend the big fly-ins because I just don't have that much money to fly. Turbomedical is nice, but since filling out the form pretty much consists of "No Change" for me now, I don't see the point in that. I don't currently take advantage of renter's insurance, owner's insurance, legal plan, etc etc (see the point about limited cash flow).

    About the only thing that I've seen worthwhile is the attempt to hold off user fees. So should that be the only reason I renew my membership?

    Perhaps I'm just missing something.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2007
  2. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ...and there is a magazine that features all of the latest unfordable wiz bang gadgets & turbo machinery.
     
  3. ScottM

    ScottM Taxi to Parking

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    I look forward to hearing the reasons why to rejoin AOPA. I will be coming up to a renewal myself and am seriously thinking of not sending in the money.

    The biggest plus I could see with AOPA is as a advocacy organization. But I see them becoming quite useless in that regard. Their performance in regards to the ADIZ was dismal, their recommendation to go to Lockheed Martin for the FSS is likely going to be the precedent to take us to user fees for an outsourced ATC, etc. I am just not seeing the value any longer. Even their magazine has turned into a 'what light jet should I buy this month' type of publication.

    The ASF is ok but don't get me started on the red board fiasco
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2007
  4. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    You get an OK magazine for twice the subscription price of its closest competitor. Um, that's all I can think of.
     
  5. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    I have been involved in the ongoing fight to keep our airport open. I can tell you from first-hand experience that without AOPA resources this job would have been much harder or impossible. Those resources have included printed materials, telephonic advice from those in the know at AOPA HQ, and communication from AOPA to influential officials on our behalf. It is not far-fetched to say we would not have an airport but for AOPA.

    Oh, and I had a serious problem with a paperwork screwup by an opthalmologist when I first applied for a second-class medical back in 1970. AOPA greased the skids and got it resolved quickly. Then there were AOPA publications to help us out for our first trips to Canada. And fortunately I've not needed it (yet), I'm glad the Legal Services Plan is there.

    As far as I'm concerned the magazine alone is worth the annual dues.

    I am not a shill for AOPA. These are just the facts from my own experience over 39 years of membership.
     
  6. alaskaflyer

    alaskaflyer Final Approach

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    I hate the magazine.

    The insurance sucks.

    Don't get me started on the credit card.

    So...

    The legal services plan.

    The free NACO charts.

    The red board (it DOES have its uses.)

    Occasional cheaper rates on a rental car.

    Umm...

    Advocacy I suppose...(which I don't dismiss too flippantly.)

    The free cheapo flight bag that rips after three weeks? The ball cap that only fits children under twelve, dwarves and pinheads?

    1/420,000 share in a corporate jet?
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2007
  7. wbarnhill

    wbarnhill Final Approach

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    In all honesty, I never meant for this to become an AOPA bashing thread, and I hope it doesn't. I appreciate everyones' input, as I just had this gut feeling that it wasn't worth it, and wanted to see what everyone else saw in AOPA.

    All that said, if there is any other advocacy group out there that it would be more worthwhile to send annual dues too, I'm more than welcome to ideas.

    And I agree that the AOPA magazine basically boils down to "Look, pretty stuff you'll never afford" for me. Same reason I questioned the sweeps plane. Just seems to be geared towards people with a heck of a lot more money than your average renter.
     
  8. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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    what you want a magazine full of beat up rental planes? its just airplane porn.
     
  9. nddons

    nddons Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'll take a contrarian view. Despite my abandonment of the red board in favor of this great group, I will say that I haven't belonged to an organization before where I can got so much for so little in dues. There may be other places to go for everything that they offer (i.e. ADDS, AirNav, etc.) but I have downloaded a ton of information, such as kneeboard format airport information, I kind of like their free flight planning software, etc.

    To put this in context, I got my ticket 2 years ago at age 45, so I used a lot of their student pilot resources. I still get both Flight Training as well as AOPA pilot, and find I enjoy the flight training magazine even more.
     
  10. Anymouse

    Anymouse En-Route

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    Actually, I first joined AOPA for the magazine and the cool jacket I got. Back then I really didn't agree with some of their policies. Now the jacket is a long gone memory and I tend to agree a lot more with their policies.

    The Red Board plays no part in my reasoning for membership.
     
  11. jkaduk

    jkaduk Cleared for Takeoff

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    Air Safety Foundation. Flight planner. Airport directory. Airport advocacy - I venture to say that there are airports open today that wouldn't be, if not for AOPA. Maybe they'll pull their head out and get a decent credit card.
    I also think that security regs would be a lot worse if not for AOPA.
     
  12. wbarnhill

    wbarnhill Final Approach

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    Forgot about those.. they have been quite handy.
     
  13. ScottPA

    ScottPA Pre-Flight

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    I can't imagine the restrictions we would have if not for the tireless work of AOPA. Try to recall the direct aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. We are pretty fortunate to belong to an organization which truly fights for our right to fly.
     
  14. Pi1otguy

    Pi1otguy Pattern Altitude

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    Basically I view AOPA as a pilot's union and that analogy is pretty accurate in my mind. Basically in exchange for dues they attempt to lobby and by off legislatures on my behalf since every cause needs a special interest group to get what its members need/want.

    Even though I don't agree with all their policies all the time I do feel that we pilots do need a group to lobby on our behalf. Sometimes I wonder how much more lobby powers they would have if some of their other products were liked by more of their members (credit card, etc).
     
  15. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    We can't expect them to win every battle for us pilots, such a small, limitedly active user group that we always have been and will be. Their GA advocasy, ASF, and magazine of which I only occasionally look at a great picture or read here & there, is well worth the huge sum of whatever $ they charge in membership. No other group can do any better for us.
     
  16. Greebo

    Greebo N9017H - C172M (1976)

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    I'm of the opinion that AOPA is immensely valuable to us as Pilots, to Aircraft Owners, to Students, and to anyone else involved in Aviation.

    They can't win all the battles - we are a minority, after all, and despite popular opinion, not a terribly wealthy one.

    Their forums are only a small piece of what they offer, and as a source of aviation wisdom, they are also immensely more valuable than we here at PoA could ever hope to be, simply by their ability to get found, if nothing else..
     
  17. JohnR

    JohnR Final Approach

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    It costs less than a half hour of rental time a year. Who cares what the benefit is, for that price.

    Now, if a competing organization performed better on government advocacy issues, then there'd be a reason to switch.
     
  18. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ehm...Like the EAA.:yes:
     
  19. Greebo

    Greebo N9017H - C172M (1976)

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    EAA has a specific focus - Experimental Aircraft. I'm sure they advocate on more, but overall their mandate is less broad.
     
  20. ScottM

    ScottM Taxi to Parking

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    Rental? What if one does not rent?
     
  21. gprellwitz

    gprellwitz Touchdown! Greaser!

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    10 gallons of 100LL.
     
  22. JohnR

    JohnR Final Approach

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    Warbirds, Antiques and Classics, for example. Wish I'd thought of that. I've never joined but I've seen their magazine and it's pretty good. For Warbirds and classics, I pick up Aviation History and Aeroplane Monthly at the newsstand.

    EAA actually helped us here in Jax with the idiotic ban on homebuilding. AOPA didn't care. IIRC, EAA did a lot to get LSA and Sport Pilot "off the ground."

    And it's EAA that is rumored to be in financial trouble? Maybe it's a calling . . .

    Oh, and EAA doesn't have a corporate jet. :D
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2007
  23. gprellwitz

    gprellwitz Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Don't forget NAFI, that's part of EAA.

    But they just don't have the membership numbers to demand the attention that AOPA does. And numbers do mean something! There is overlap between the two organizations, though, both in mission and roster.
     
  24. RotaryWingBob

    RotaryWingBob En-Route Gone West

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    I've asked myself the same question. Personally, the membership doesn't do much for me, but I think the ASF and the GA advocacy make it worthwhile. I sure don't belong because of the huge number of helicopter articles in the mag...
     
  25. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    Without EAA, Sport Pilot would not have happened. Developed by EAA, pushed by EAA, passed through the efforts of EAA and AOPA.

    As for EAA's financial trouble ... membership has been declining for several years. IMO it will continue to decline because Paul P had a vision of what the organization should be; Tom P is simply a caretaker. It's lost its edge.

    When I went to work there I was surprised there was no flying club and only a very small number of people were even pilots -- like 10 or so. Even Tom, once a world-class aerobatic pilot, no longer flies. I believe EAA's doldrums start at the top. Also, EAA does not have nearly the lobbying influence AOPA has. Part of it is funding. Part of it is the lack of Beltway access and a Beltway mentality.
     
  26. gprellwitz

    gprellwitz Touchdown! Greaser!

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    AOPA has a number of, IMHO, important offshoots:
    Air Safety Foundation
    Airport Support Network
    Project Pilot (arguably)

    plus, of course, the lobbying, insurance, legal services plan, magazines, RTFP (imperfect as it is), etc.

    Not a perfect membership organization, but better than most of the others overall.
     
  27. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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    in that case, send me 40 bucks, i promise you at least nothing in return!
     
  28. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I hope you aren't saying that AOPA membership is worthless.
     
  29. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think it's important for all of us to belong to both AOPA and EAA. We are such a small, hated group as it is that we need to act together to preserve our ability to fly.
     
  30. ScottPA

    ScottPA Pre-Flight

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    I agree, although I think hated is a strong word here. I would like to think of aviation, and more importantly "general aviation", as being more misunderstood. We are mostly viewed as a bunch of rich people spending wasteful amounts of money on overpriced airplanes and depleting fuel when the fact is that the greater majority of us are not rich and simply love the act of flying.
     
  31. TMetzinger

    TMetzinger Final Approach

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    I don't see how one can bash AOPA for "losing" on ADIZ and LOCK-MART and not bash EAA at the same time - both lobbied in similar fashions.

    Not that _I'm_ not bashing either one - I belong to both and feel I get a good return on my dues.

    Anyone who thinks they can do it better is free to start their own organization.
     
  32. Pjsmith

    Pjsmith Line Up and Wait

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    I'm going to renew, even though I have some of the same doubts as above. I guess I feel that for the thirty or forty bucks, somebody in aviation is getting some service that's valuable if not me. And hey, someday it might be my airport that I need Phil & co to show up at for the media draw to prevent closure.

    I agree with the assessment of the magazine though. I flip through it but find that it usually has a bunch of ads for planes I'll never buy, stories about planes I'll never buy, stories about how many planes some flight school in florida or bumble-f bought, and some warm and fuzzy personal narrative about a staff writer who flew out to find a little airstrip and in the process found himself, new meaning in his life, or an important lesson not currently covered in flight training courses.
     
  33. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    AOPA in a nutshell: The ASN is awesome. That's it.

    Your money goes towards paying postage to harrass current members into donating more money, and into recruiting them to join AOPA, even though they are already members. It gets you a magazine that repeats the same stories every few years with a slightly new twist. It gets you horribly priced insurance, and a legal plan that any smart pilot will never need.

    So yeah, when I saw the Lockheed Martin ad on their website under the "Advocacy" link, I had no problem calling in and canceling my membership. AOPA is under poor leadership and deserves not one penny from me or any other self-respecting pilot.

    Oh - one more - AOPA will take credit for things they had nothing to do with, just to steal thunder from EAA and individual pilots. Gotta love it.
     
  34. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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    oh no, but if john will pay 40 bucks and not care what the benefit is, he may as well pay 40 bucks to me :D
     
  35. Sticky1

    Sticky1 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The $$ is NOT the issue here. I don't like democratic dictatorships.
     
  36. flyersfan31

    flyersfan31 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Forget the red board. Forget bizjets in the magazine. Forget N4GA.

    Without a voice in Washington, and a seat at the Congressional hearings, GA might as well fold up now. You folks may see the ADIZ and LM situation as a total loss. I say, what if the AOPA was NOT there, doing its best to fight a bunch of 100 IQ politicians and their cheap political stunts? The ADIZ could cover the entire US. Hyperbole? Think about it, long and hard.

    Don't forget airport advocacy. There are a lot of airports still open thanks to the work of the AOPA.

    Has AOPA batted 1.000? No. I think they've done pretty well, though. I shudder to think of what might have happened, to pick two issues, on user fees and the ADIZ, had the AOPA not been in there fighting.

    $40 is nothing -- maybe an hour of CFI time. Maybe you could get 1/2 hr in a 152. I see it as a small price to pay to protect an increasingly-embattled hobby (and that's what aviation is to many GA pilots).

    Regards,

    Andrew


    A closing thought. Not to compare the plight of GA with the groups mentioned below, but merely to highlight the possible ramifications of inaction....

    They came first for the Communists,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
    Then they came for the Jews,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Catholics,and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
    Then they came for me,and by that time no one was left to speak up.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2007
  37. Shipoke

    Shipoke Cleared for Takeoff

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    They came first for the Communists,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
    Then they came for the Jews,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Catholics,and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
    Then they came for me,and by that time no one was left to speak up.

    I like that Flyer.


    And BTW i belong to Both The AOPA and EAA, and am damn proud of what BOTH group do for General Avaition.
    Yes i wish they could have kept all the airports open (Meigs Field is one i wanted to get to) but atleast someone is trying in our behalf.

    David J Gaiski:blueplane:

    AOPA 01391953
    EAA 0628802

    PA28-161 N8085A
     
  38. ScottPA

    ScottPA Pre-Flight

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    I agree, Dave. I have kept my AOPA membership since I first joined. I feel that if my $39 can help in some small way, I'm all for it. I had to let my EAA dues slip for a few years but recently renewed. I have been in love with flying for the majority of my years and even though I have been unable to do so for sometime, I fully support those that do.

    AOPA 01186058
    EAA 0449488
     
  39. KennyFlys

    KennyFlys Guest

    If you want a perfect pilot organization, or any organization for that matter, take a pill to assist you in a sweet dream. That's all it will be, a dream. There's room for improvement in any given situation or organization with AOPA being no exception.

    I've been with AOPA going on six years. I've only been back to flying for two years. I learned a lot from AOPA Pilot and in particular with Flight Training. I pay the extra bucks to get both because I know well both will benefit me as a pilot and most certainly as an instructor.

    Not everyone is going to feel that way. But, I'm dang sure not going to abandon the only real advocacy group we have in order to provide Tony more money for Ramen Noodles. :) We need that representation in Washington. Right now, some 80% of certificated pilots are members of AOPA. That's not a bad ratio. Given a good number of those pilot/members are accomplished individuals with the ability to speak with money, and in particular, campaign donations, they won't be easily ignored. AOPA is the best suited organization to make these facts known. I doubt there's anyone here who will likely vote for a politician in favor of user fees let alone give money to their campaign.

    For the last five years, I've belonged to NAFI because of its information. It's not as much as AOPA but its focus brings me what I want. It also includes a subscription to Flying that may be more suited for professional pilots but has just enough information from time to time to make it worthwhile. Some day, I may subscribe to some periodical addressing "rich people's planes." Sorry Ken, I couldn't help myself. :)

    That leads me to something Kent said. We are indeed a hated group by those full of class envy. We're thought of as wealthy and privileged and don't deserve the right to own and fly a private airplane. There are those who want to shut down airports and limit our liberties. As a group, we pilots must protect ourselves against such activists. I don't think there's a person on this board who does not highly value their privilege as a pilot. Even the most financially secure among us have the love of airplanes and flying so ingrained in our hearts and souls, we would struggle to remain active in aviation regardless of suddenly becoming less capable than now.

    I just got my renewal notice as well but haven't opened it. But, I'll definitely renew. I don't want to lose a single issue of those subscriptions as I know well there will be something in nearly every one that will assist me in being a better informed pilot and instructor to be. I'll have continued access to the web with a wealth of information at any given time I can pull for the benefit of myself or my student. Two years ago, I was able to get my hands on an article that went quite a distance on helping me better understand Va. That's thanks to AOPA and its vast archive.

    Is AOPA a great membership? It depends on your need. But, considering how much you paid to learn to fly and wish to remain flying, I think it's well worth the small investment. I'm referring to non-commercial pilots who fly for fun. It's that group first at risk from the anti-aviation groups I've described.

    Remain a member, for all our sakes.
     
  40. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The problem here is that people are referring to AOPA as the only choice. For those who are willing to drop the money, you can be a member of many organizations, the EAA and AOPA are 2 of them. For me, since AOPA does literally nothing, and takes credit for everything, EAA gets my money.

    Remember, folks, AOPA is an advocacy group, not a magazine company, nor an insurance company.