General Aviation – A network of support

With a number of  superb organisations and associations promoting, supporting and lobbying for our General Aviation rights and our freedoms, striving to educate and increase safety and fighting to retain our airfields and educate local councils, we have compiled details of the organisations and direct links to their websites.

The list is by no means exhaustive, but details some of the organisations that every GA Pilot should strongly consider supporting, if we are to enjoy the freedom and benefits that is the UK General Aviation Community as a whole.

Many of these organisations rely on membership subscriptions, so that they can be successful in their specialist fields. Often, for less than the price of an hours flying, a yearly subscription will provide returns that are immeasurable for all in the GA community, from Pilots to Engineers, Airfield Staff to Enthusiasts.

Never has it been so important for the GA Community to come together, to protect and support our airfields, to retain our airspace and the privileges that we enjoy within it and for this industry to grow, rather than to shrink. We must support the organisations that work tirelessly for our mutual benefit and the time for that support is now.

Please take a few moments to click the links below, some of which will have more relevance to your particular area of General Aviation and subscribe to the newsletter. Please show your support by clicking “Like” on their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and please take out that subscription. Together, we can not only continue to enjoy GA, but we can promote, secure and watch it grow as we continue to enjoy our flying.

AOPA UK – Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association 

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association UK, is part of AOPA, the world’s largest, most influential aviation membership association, which has achieved its prominent position through effective advocacy, technical competence and hard work. AOPA provides member services that range from representation at World, European, National and local levels to advice and other assistance. AOPA has built a service organisation that far exceeds any other in the aviation community.

AOPA UK is a not-for-profit organisation which exists to serve the interests of its members as aircraft owners and pilots, promoting the economy, safety, utility, and popularity of flight in General Aviation Aircraft, including fixed-wing singles and twin piston and turbine, airships, sea planes, helicopters, microlights, gliders, and balloons. AOPA works for all aircraft owners and pilots, campaigning for better regulation within the UK and Europe rather than just specialist needs of particular sections of aviation. Members enjoy concessions at The Pilot Store in London, at the AOPA UK Office, attractive rates at The London Flight Sim, bi-monthly magazine and satisfaction in the knowledge that AOPA is most definitely working for YOU.

AOPA UK provides the vital voice that speaks for the interests of UK pilots, for issues including and not limited to airspace access, aerodrome access, threats of aerodrome closure, pilot licensing, over regulation, and flying costs. It speaks not only to the UK authorities but to Europe and the rest of the world through IAOPA’s seat at ICAO, the United Nations body that oversees civil aviation throughout the globe.

AOPA will provide advice and support to its members in all areas of General Aviation (GA), including assistance, should they find themselves threatened with prosecution for alleged violations of aviation legislation.

Of particular note is the AOPA Wings Award Scheme. The scheme is endorsed as meeting the CAA’s Pilot Recognition for Operational Up-skilling and Development (PROUD) criteria and is open to all Private or Professional Pilots flying single pilot aeroplanes or helicopters, whether or not they are AOPA members. Within all flying activities for AOPA Wings Awards, it is essential that safety is the primary concern.  In meeting the requirements of the scheme the applicant is expected to seek to attain high standards in training, engage in thorough preparation, make the correct use of standard operating procedures and display sound levels of airmanship. Full details of the scheme are contained within the link and Bronze Wings are offered to anyone who has gained their pilot’s licence and applies to AOPA.

Attractive membership rates and discounted student membership makes AOPA an organisation that is essential for anyone connected with General Aviation.

GASCo – General Aviation Safety Council 

The General Aviation Safety Council was founded in 1964 to provide a forum in which all of the General Aviation organisations could meet to share safety information. Today, almost every organisation that represents those who supply, maintain, control, support, regulate and, most importantly, fly each and every kind of flying machine is a member of GASCo. T

They meet to share experiences and ideas for the improvement of flight safety. GASCo is a Charity funded by its member organisations, pilots, aviation authorities and other generous contributors.

In addition to the Council Meetings for the member organisations, GASCo sends its magazine GASCo Flight Safety free to all UK aircraft owners and flying instructors (and to others for a small subscription) and organises seminars and flight safety events, often held at local airfields and they are always fully booked!

GAAC – General Aviation Awareness Council

The GAAC is the most representative UK body in General Aviation and is recognised as such by Government, the CAA and other organisations and bodies, to be the organisation that speaks for General Aviation on planning and environmental issues.

To protect the environment the GAAC acknowledge that they must provide the information and knowledge that many planners and local authorities fail to consider when approached by developers wishing to change the use of your local airfield. There are fears about the building of new airports and while these are not the concern of General Aviation we realise that similar fears exist about our smaller aerodromes which can only be allayed by the full understanding, consultation and involvement of those concerned.

The GAAC have grand plans for the future and the website and social media accounts are being revamped. The GAAC intends to widen their ‘Awareness’ campaign to other issues where there is consensus. If you have a question on anything from flying model aircraft to planning a new airfield, the GAAC can provide you with an answer and their contact details are contained within their website.

As part of the improvements to the website, the Newsletter functionality is available and is free to subscribe.

BWPA – British Women Pilot’s Association

Formed in 1955 the BWPA came into being ten years after World War II Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) women pilots had been thanked for their services to their country, been patted on the head and told to go back to their kitchens. Amongst their members are student pilots, airline captains, military pilots and flying instructors.

The BWPA is a membership organisation that exists to support women who fly or who are learning to fly, and to encourage participation in aviation by women who have yet to try it. Members are of all ages, experience and backgrounds but share a common passion.

Today there are many more women flying professionally but with only around 5% of the UK pilot workforce being female and current estimates put the female GA pilot population in the UK at 6%,  demonstrating that there is obviously much room for improvement.

BWPA are involved in several initiatives and schemes to raise awareness of both aviation careers and STEM subjects for females and to encourage women to fly for recreation. Some of this work involves working with other aviation organisations and airlines.

BWPA also aim to encourage existing female pilots to join the BWPA in order that they can continue their work with young people and to fund their scholarships (7 were announced in 2017!), events and outreach work.

The Air League

The Air League believes deeply in aviation and aerospace, and the place they hold in Britain’s future. For over a hundred years, they have showcased these areas, highlighting their role in security and technological innovation, and their important contribution to the economy and to British society.

Today, that passion continues unabated. Britain remains at the forefront of aviation and aerospace, both as a major player in global security, and through its significant work in the fields of technology and innovation.

Their efforts and commitment have been pivotal in shaping the entire aviation and aerospace sector. Together we have driven debate and policy agendas, and continue to be well-respected by corporate and government groups.

Young members are particularly encouraged to join The Air League, attracting the bright minds and talent of tomorrow via the ongoing provision of many Scholarships and Bursaries. The benefits of their scholarships and bursaries and the array of assistance that The Air League provides is better explained on their excellent website and cannot be complimented enough.

The Honourable Company of Air Pilots

The Company was established as a Guild in 1929 in order to ensure that pilots and navigators of the (then) fledgling aviation industry were accepted and regarded as professionals. From the beginning, the Guild was modelled on the lines of the Livery Companies of the City of London, which were originally established to protect the interests and standards of those involved in their respective trades or professions. In 1956, the Guild was formally recognised as a Livery Company. In 2014, it was granted a Royal Charter in the name of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots.

Today, the principal activities of the Company are centred on sponsoring and encouraging action and activities designed to ensure that aircraft are piloted and navigated safely by individuals who are highly competent, self-reliant, dependable and respected. The Company fosters the sound education and training of air pilots from the initial training of the young pilot to the specialist training of the more mature. Through charitable activities, education and training, technical committee work, aircrew aptitude testing, scholarships and sponsorship, advice and recognition of the achievements of fellow aviators world-wide, the Company keeps itself at the forefront of the aviation world.

Please visit their website for more details.

LAA – The Light Aircraft Association

The LAA websites states:- “We’ve been Making Dreams Fly since 1946, through our pioneering and innovative approach to make aircraft ownership truly achievable. Our strong sense of community in an Association that is inclusive of all types of aircraft from the home-built, vintage or classic to the inspirational cutting-edge, and that truly supports its members, makes flying a real Adventure. So regardless of what you fly and your aviation dreams, the LAA is the right choice for you.”

The LAA was established just after the end of World War Two with the aim of ensuring that recreational aviation was affordably available to the man in the street. Pre-war it had predominantly been the preserve of the better off. Nearly seventy years later, the Association remains true to that ethos, demonstrating its commitment to affordability with its Permit to Fly air worthiness regime, and with its work in advocacy ensuring that the needs and freedoms of the recreational pilot are duly considered.

Offering a variety of membership options, from Student Pilot, Homebuilder, to Oversea’s Engineering Member, the options available and relevance to your type of aviation are vast.

The support provided to General Aviation by the LAA is infinite and professionalism is presented from their stunning headquarters at Turweston Aerodrome. From help and advice, the running of courses, tuition, coaching, to the LAA Rally, every detail of their services and support structure can be located within the pages of their excellent website.

BGA – British Gliding Association

The British Gliding Association is the governing body for the sport of gliding in the UK. Their members are the 80+ clubs that provide gliding facilities for their members and are spread throughout the UK, from the north of Scotland to the South West tip of England. Through these clubs, the BGA represent and provide support to many thousands of glider pilots.

The BGA are responsible for managing training standards in the sport and are committed to safe practices with the objective of facilitating a sport gliding environment where the levels of risk are as low as reasonably practicable. As a fully CAA-accredited Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation, the BGA manage the ongoing airworthiness of the UK glider fleet, working closely with the UK CAA.

The BGA is a one stop shop for all things gliding. Whether you have flown before or are simply interested in gliding, the pages of the BGA website, will direct you to the right place. Everything from detailing how a glider flies, to locating a club, learning to fly and progressing to advanced gliding is covered.

The gallery and video sections and tutorials are excellent on the website and for anyone who has done little more than consider a trial flight in a glider, I suspect will have you reaching for the telephone to book your initial flight.

BMAA – British Microlight Aircraft Association

The British Microlight Aircraft Association looks after the interests of microlight pilots and enthusiasts in the UK. It is an organisation approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Its aims are to further the sport of microlight aviation, keep flying costs down to a minimum for its members and to represent them in national and international matters relating to the Microlight field of sport flying

The BMAA website is maintained to an excellent standard with complete content from all aspects of Microlight flying, ranging from a beginner’s guide to Microlight flying in the form of the excellent Quick Start Guide to Microlight Flying, training and student support, Permit renewal section, classified advertisements and a vibrant social media community and forum thread.

A wide range of competitive membership subscription packages are available and support for the Microlight Pilot is outstanding. Full details of member benefits can be found within the website and be sure to follow the link to the members discounts page also.

The author would like to acknowledge that many of the descriptions of the organisations referred to above, come directly from the organisations own website.

These organisations are best placed to detail their history, achievements and objective and it is for this reason that a direct lift has been used for the ultimate goal of increasing awareness, garnering support and strengthening the fantastic UK General Aviation Industry.

Get Into Flying also wishes to acknowledge that behind every flight, there are a wealth of organisations and individuals that help keep us safe and able to enjoy our flying. From Airfield Operators and all who work for them, Fuel Companies and the delivery network, Fire and Rescue Services, Maintenance Organisation, Air Traffic Service Units, Military controllers and the Distress and Diversion Cell, The CAA and EASA, to name but a few, without the support and services provided by each and every one of you, the UK GA community would like face a significant greater number of challenges than it does today.

Andy’s dream of learning to fly after he’d retired came early when he gained his PPL(A) in early 2014. Flying from City Airport Manchester (Barton), he visits as many airports, aerodromes, airfields and farm strips as he can, filming many of his expeditions. He is keen to support and promote General Aviation.

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