Stability Brings New Strength
It was a great year for EAA. We are a traditional association, not one to often pat ourselves on the back, but there’s no denying we’ve had incredible successes this year that built upon our already solid foundation. The numbers you see in the following pages show EAA is strong by every measure and has established stability at all levels of our organization that will carry our mission forward for years to come.
Our growth can be directly attributed to you and the thousands of EAAers who have made our success possible through donations of time and money. In an organization built by people who build and restore their own airplanes, it goes without saying that involvement and a can-do attitude is the backbone of EAA.
What I find most encouraging about the state of this association is our stability. The world of personal aviation faces more challenges than ever before. The number of pilots, and the size of the personal airplane fleet, has been gradually declining, but in skies filled with turbulent air, EAA remains a stable institution in the world of personal aviation.
And even though the pilot population may not be increasing as fast as it once had, EAA remains a vibrant, active, and growing community. While the aviation industry consolidates and faces challenges on many fronts, our annual fly-in and convention here in Oshkosh shows consistent growth in attendance across all levels of member and industry participation. Additionally, our government advocacy programs continue to rack up a multitude of successes that protect your freedom to fly.
One other important key to maintaining stability has been the completion this past year of the leadership transition at EAA. For several years, I had served as volunteer president of the association in addition to my elected role as chairman of the board of directors. I am honored that after months of discussions, the board has now selected me as CEO and chairman of your association to provide consistent and stable leadership for years to come.
Our energetic and experienced board of directors also provides the stability we’ll need as we take on new initiatives that will grow your association. Our mission — to protect and promote all forms of personal aviation — is clear, and the board’s prudent investment decisions and innovative program emphasis make EAA the definitive force in aviation.
In fact, one of our most important programs, Young Eagles, continues to be the successful effort ever created to introduce young people to the world of aviation. When it was founded more than 20 years ago, Young Eagles was a way to celebrate the centennial of the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903. The program was intended to last a decade leading to that anniversary. But through the thousands of flight and ground hours donated by our members, Young Eagles not only lives on, but also gains in critical importance with each passing year. In our fiscal year 2016, the total number of Young Eagles flights neared the 2 million mark. An unimaginable number when the program began in 1992, and now approaches its 25th anniversary and what’s sure to be a fantastic celebration at AirVenture in 2017.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is a critical component of our financial performance every year, and 2015 was no exception. The weeklong fly-in convention was better by all measures compared to 2014, and the best in many years. We won’t stop ensuring that it retains its legacy as the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.
AirVenture Oshkosh has become a very important part of EAA. Our annual convention and fly-in is the premier showcase for personal aviation around the world and is both the barometer of success and the growth engine for all of personal aviation. Oshkosh, as it is most commonly known, is the most prominent and shining example of how you, our members, make EAA the global force it has become through your countless hours of volunteer work.
Our success in 2015 clearly demonstrates that our flight plan is solid, and we are on the right course. But this is no time to throttle back. We have made great progress in defeating threats to our freedom to fly, but it’s impossible to predict what new challenges will emerge without warning. That’s why your continued support, through donations of time and money, are essential to maintain the positive stability EAA has achieved.
Thank you for making 2015 another solid and stable success for EAA. And if I could ask one more thing, please consider becoming a Lifetime member of EAA. It’s important to our association, and a fantastic value for you
Jack J. Pelton,
EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board