All Hail The Aero-Heroes of 2008!
Final Compilations by ANN Editor-In-Chief/Dog Walker, Jim
It is both the most "fun," and most difficult, task facing the
ANN staff at the end of every year -- determining who, or what, did
the most to promote the cause of aviation in the past 365 days...
while also chastising those people or entities that did all they
could to undermine the many successes the aviation/aerospace
community has managed to accomplish.
Thankfully, 2008 was a year in which we saw the best and
brightest among us step forward and work tirelessly on behalf of us
all. No doubt about it... the challenges we faced in 2008 were
numerous, and ongoing... so was the quality of expertise and
passion brought to our defense by those who heroically demonstrated
to the world the very best side of aviation... via their deeds,
words and actions.
It is ANN's honor to recognize Ten persons/organizations or
groups that qualify as our Aero-Heroes for 2008... in something of
an informal order, starting from the 1st to the 10th. Let us know
what you think of our selections... whom YOU would have liked be
included or omitted from such a list. In the meantime, we thank the
folks who made this year's list. Thank you, folks... we really
needed you this year, and you didn't let us down.
ANN will list our Top Ten choices over the next few days's, but
in order to kick off the New Year right, let's lead off with our
TOP SELECTION for 2008...
Aero-Hero #1: AOPA President Phil Boyer
Let's face it… of all the heroes of aviation that we have
come to admire for the tumultuous year ending 2008, there had to be
little question that the overall figurehead of this year's list
would be none other than AOPA's irrepressible, indefatigable,
undaunted Phil Boyer.
Phil Boyer has been the uncommon aviation leader -- a guy who
knew what he wanted to do, got it done, and was aggressive in
pursuing an agenda that benefited the world of general aviation in
ways that will be felt for generations. A guy with a
tremendous amount of media savvy, no shyness of hard work, a
consummate organizer, and a passionate aviator; Phil Boyer led AOPA
in a way that had never been seen before.
More important; Phil led AOPA during some of the most critical
issues it has ever faced. Throughout a number of battles with
the FAA and the Department of Transportation, not to mention a
nasty little fracas with John McCain, Boyer kept his cool and lead
the world of general aviation responsibly, ethically and
But -- if there were defining moments during the Boyer
presidency they came as a function of a few principal
issues… the primary one, of course, was trying to keep the
government from destroying GA altogether in the wake of 9/11, while
continuing battles (since then) over issues of security and the
omnipresent ogre of "user fees" has kept the guy more than a little
On top of that, Boyer (pictured above, with EAA Founder Paul
Poberezny) was a master promoter of the organization. Phil managed
to not only build up the membership roster of AOPA to heights it
has never seen before, but to levels we honestly doubt anybody ever
Under Boyer's leadership, the AOPA membership ranks have swelled
to well past 400,000 and even to as high as some 413,000 at one
point. While the numbers may seem clumsy to some, they are truly
massive in the eyes of a politician, daunting in the face of a foe,
and impressive to a public that really doesn't understand how
pervasive the aviation world truly is.
Finally; Phil assembled an amazing staff of people who not only
make AOPA operate exceedingly well (and certainly far better than
any equivalently sized governmental agency), and has also overseen
the expansion of the Air Safety Foundation, both in terms of size
and scope. For nearly 2 decades, AOPA has been "the house that Phil
In just a few minutes, as I write this, the responsibility for
running the world's largest pilots organization passes from Phil
Boyer to Craig Fuller. And while we feel the selection of Fuller to
be an inspired one, full of promise, and one that seems especially
suited for the years ahead, we have to admit that we're going to
miss working with Boyer. He was more than good at his job, he has
been a ball to work with.
So… Phil Boyer retires, and while we hope this means
everything that he personally wants it to mean for him and his
family, we doubt he'll be a stranger. Knowing of his deep love
for aviation, and his commitment to the world of GA, I have no
doubt we'll be hearing from him again and again… which can
only benefit us all.
So here's to Phil Boyer… The Aero-News Network's
unanimous selection as our 'Aero-Hero of 2008' and one of the best
friends general aviation has ever had.
Blue skies, Phil… Thanks for everything!