EAA’s mission is to bring people and airplanes together. When we do that, magic can happen. I’m happy to report that EAA had another successful year of providing a genuine aviation experience for thousands of people. We finishedour fiscal year, which ended in February, with more members at a total of 188,161, a positive balance sheet, and progress on helping to make personal flying more available and less of a hassle.
I credit our positive results to the prudent management of your board of directors because we faced some unexpected headwinds. The biggest surprise was the nearly half-million-dollar bill the FAA handed us for air traffic control services for our annual convention and fly-in at Oshkosh. And the change in policy came just a few months before the big event.
We had the reserves to weather that turbulence and now have in place a nine-year agreement with the FAA going forward. We are now assured that we can continue to welcome more than 10,000 airplanes to Oshkosh during the week of convention with no unexpected charges or changes in operating procedures.
The other headwinds we encountered were not surprises. The number of active pilots continues to decline, as does the number of registered private airplanes of all types. The average age of pilots and airplanes is still increasing. But EAA has developed strategies to stabilize, and I believe even reverse, the negative trends we have been tracking for many years.
Our Young Eagles program continues to be aviation’s most prominent and effective way to introduce young people to flying. We are closing in on 2 million Young Eagles flown, all by EAA members who volunteer their airplanes and flying skills. I can’t thank all you enough for your care and giving to the next generation.
EAA is also working very effectively to make it easier for already certificated pilots to keep flying by lobbying for reform in third-class medical certification. This has been a long struggle, but our efforts are paying off. The FAA has announced new rules are being developed that will allow very expanded types of private flying using a driver’s license instead of a third-class medical. The proposed rule changes have not been published as I write this, but I am convinced the changes will be significant and welcome.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, our annual fly-in, remains the single largest aviation event in the world and brings together more people and airplanes for one week than at any other place or time. Oshkosh not only shows the beauty and thrill of flying to hundreds of thousands, but also reignites the flying passion in all of us. As you can see in the financial statements in this report, Oshkosh is key to supporting all other EAA activities throughout the year.
The EAA AirVenture Museum continues to contain and display the premier collection of historic airplanes in many categories, telling the story of aviation from the first gliding and powered flights by the Wright brothers to the first privately designed and built spacecraft. EAA also takes flying history on the road with our faithfully restored B-17 Aluminum Overcast and our Ford Tri-Motor flying the country offering rides. Touring the two historic airplanes is a significant investment in keeping aviation history alive, but your directors are convinced it’s worth the cost for as long as we can keep the airplanes operating.
As I review the solid results of a challenging year, I am once again reminded that none of this would be possible without the generous volunteer work of thousands of EAAers. Everything from buildings and grounds maintenance to flying Young Eagles is done by volunteers, and your board of directors and I can’t thank each of you enough for your dedication.