In early September my wife had a business trip to Washington, D.C. I tagged along because my brother lives in the area and it had been a while since I had seen him.
I had lots of free time so I decided to drive up to Frederick, Maryland and visit the AOPA headquarters. I went on-line to the AOPA website to see what may be on hand for the visit but really couldn’t get a lot of information. So I drove up and just presented myself.To start, the AOPA headquarters is located right at the Frederick Airport. It is a beautiful, modern facility divided up by functional departments of the organization. The receptionist was delightful and quickly got someone to show me around. My guide was a very nice fellow and efficiently led me to all the departments where I was invariably greeted with smiles and waves as all the employees (over 200 of them!) were regaled with telephone headsets and computers busily assisting AOPA members.
The tour ended on the second floor in the president’s office reception area. I had no idea if Phil Boyer was in or not and, moreover, felt certain that he would be far too busy for me if he happened to be in this day. Before I could thank my guide and say hello to Phil’s aide-de-camp, Phil was shaking my hand and inviting me into his office for a chat. I was stunned!
We were in his office for nearly half an hour. Obviously we talked about flying and planes but also about how organizations such as AOPA and BAC operate. I told him I was the southwestern regional director of BAC and as much as I could about BAC. I was curious to hear him discuss topics like membership drive activities and fly-in attendance. Of course, the organizations are ridiculously different in terms of size (AOPA has over 400,000 members internationally) but a lot of our goals and activities are the same.
Phil was extremely warm, engaging and fun to talk to. He has a great passion for aviation and especially us single engine pilots. As I recall, he indicated his first retract time was in a baby Beech and he had a great fondness for our planes.
So, to wrap this up, if you find yourself near Frederick, Maryland and have about an hour, stop by the airport and visit the world headquarters of AOPA. I reckon that most, if not all, BAC members also belong to AOPA so there is plenty of reason to pay them a visit. Like BAC, AOPA does a lot for us pilots and a personal thank you would never be out of line. Who knows Phil might be there and I know he’ll greet you just like he did me!