Congratulations to our own Gordon Feingold, this year’s recipient of AOPA’s Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award.
This is BIG STUFF – this is AOPA’s highest award to a private citizen.
All of us at COPA are proud of you, Gordon, and those of us who’ve had the pleasure of meeting you are privileged to know you. Your work has helped all of G.A, but we’re especially lucky to have you as our volunteer Vice President of COPA. Thank you and CONGRATULATIONS from us all!
Here is the text from the AOPA announcement. Emphasis is mine.
2002 AOPA Sharples Award
California AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer
California pilot and airport activist Gordon Feingold is the 2002 recipient of AOPA’s Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award, which annually recognizes the year’s greatest, selfless commitment to general aviation by a private citizen.
Feingold won the honor for his efforts as the AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteer at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport in California, successfully rallying local pilots to beat back a threatened noise curfew and win the first major GA improvements at the field in 30 years.
"Gordon fits perfectly the description of the Sharples Award," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "His efforts to defend and improve this important airport will serve as a model for pilots and GA airport support volunteers everywhere."
This year’s Sharples winner volunteered as the AOPA ASN representative for Santa Barbara Municipal in 1999, just as a few airport neighbors were pressing for a noise curfew that could have been disastrous for the long-established airport. Santa Barbara Municipal is the only airport serving more than 160,000 citizens in both Santa Barbara and Goleta, California, and hosts some 170,000 takeoffs and landings a year.
As the clamor for a curfew grew through 1999 and early 2000, Feingold orchestrated a public relations campaign that included helping reporters from local media understand the value of the airport and appreciate the noise control efforts already in place. In March 2000, his work resulted in fair, balanced reports on both the front page of the local newspaper and on a widely viewed cable TV report. No curfew was enacted.
But Feingold’s most significant victory as the AOPA ASN volunteer at Santa Barbara Municipal was winning a new aviation facilities plan that included badly needed new T-hangars, the first in 30 years. At a critical city council hearing on the plan, enthusiastic pilots packed the council chambers, all waving Feingold-provided small red clothes hangers at appropriate moments to symbolize their support for the new T-hangars.
Boyer noted that the Santa Barbara Municipal airport manager had pulled Feingold aside after unanimous city council approval of the plan and told him, “We couldn’t have done this without you [local GA pilots]. Our airport administration now clearly recognizes the value and activism of our local GA pilots and businesses.”
Feingold is the 27th Sharples Award honoree. Previous winners include famed entertainers and aviation advocates Arthur Godfrey and Cliff Robertson, legendary “Smilin’ Jack” cartoonist and aviation advocate Zack Mosley, and Paul Poberezny, founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association.