I’ve recently plonked my money down and joined the PFA. I spent some time wracking my brains over this, dithering between that and the alternative — AOPA. I was reluctant to spend money on both since bother are about £50 which is not peanuts to the constantly skint flyer.
Since my decision making was so overlong and drawn out. I thought I’d post it up for others also thinking about it…
Basically felt I did want to join some sort of representative group mainly because I’m a firm believer in “if you don’t vote don’t whinge”. AOPA do a year free membership for student pilots (Not well advetised but tick the “Student” box on the joining form) and I was a member while I was training but it’s been gone a year since then now and I felt I was ranting an awful lot without doing a great deal about any of the “issues facing GA” which they both purport to tackle.
In the end it was several factors that swayed me towards the PFA. One of the main ones was their active Youth and Education section which is all about encouraging young people to take an interest in aviation. This is something I feel quite strongly about and wanted to support.
The next influencing factor was (and I’m sure their marketing department will love to hear this) the upcoming name change to the “Light Aircraft Association (PDF)” and their posted news article on why they were doing so (PDF). They went to some lengths to point out that they aren’t just for homebuilders. I fly a CofA aircraft and the main thing putting me off the PFA was trying to work out if it was really worth joing a “homebuilders association” when I can just about put up a shelf without hammering my thumb… Was their talk of representing the whole GA community anything more than marketing blurb?
The mantra of “Affordable Flying” goes without saying is right up my street , and there are very many lovely looking PFA machines out there which I daydream over, and several people have been good enough to take me flying in theirs. Overall it’s more the way I see my flying long term. AOPA, at least to me, seems more geared to the “proper” pilots than the kind of sunny-day-bimbler which I am.
So while I waited for the Big Annual Bill (yes I was still waiting for the aeroplane to come back), I splurged instead on my first payment and have been rewarded with a big stack of marketing material and two magazines hot on the heels of each other.
My first impressions are of an active, busy, motivated, strongly opinionated organisation. There were some snippy, snipey comments in the first magazine I received which didn’t really endear me to it all that much (complaining about members not releasing the details of their build projects). I did pause to wonder if I really had just joined up with a bunch of stroppy whingers after all, but it didn’t seem to be repeated in the next offering so I’m withholding judgement for the moment. “Opinionated” has its place after all, and is sometimes the way to get things done.
I’ve read the magazine cover to cover, including to my suprise, the sections on building an aircraft. My idle daydreams are starting to take a rather odd turn actually!
Still working my through it all, I will post again when I’ve had time to form an opinion on whether I made the right choice.