As 2002 draws to a close, I am want to reflect upon the milestones and accomplishments of COPA, our members and Cirrus.
COPA more than doubled in size, from about 300 members to nearly 700, which I am sure makes us the fastest growing aviation type club and we are now probably in the top 15 in size. We hosted events at the Sun-N-Fun and the AOPA Expo. We held several smaller fly-ins including the Nantucket trip attended by over 20 members. We held one fly-out to the Bahamas where about 10 Cirruses and their occupants spent a long weekend on Marsh Harbour to melt the long winterÂ’s ice off our wings. We presented four CPPP training sessions to about 70 pilots. WeÂ’ve also continually enhanced our web site, adding more features and making access easier.
Cirrus Design also had a great year. They will be delivering their 600th aircraft in a matter of days, and have moved from a production rate of 2 - 3 airplanes per week in early 2001 to about two per day now. This has enabled Cirrus to pass Piper and move up to the number two spot on the GAMA ladder for single engine piston aircraft manufacturers. But more importantly for us, this jump in production has enabled Cirrus to work through an enormous backlog and now anyone can get a new Cirrus in less than six months. When I first took delivery in early 2001, I was constantly asked by controllers, line personal and other pilots what my plane was, how it flew and how long it took me to build. Now, it is unusual if I donÂ’t see at least one other Cirrus on the ramp. In addition to production, Cirrus has certified and delivered the TKS weeping wing system and the first glass cockpit primary flight display (PFD) on a certified SE piston aircraft. And letÂ’s not forget Lionel Morrison, who became the first GA pilot to use the CAPS in an emergency situation, validating the concept, but also saving his bacon.
Our members had some pretty outstanding achievements as well. Our own Gordon Feingold won AOPAÂ’s Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award, which annually recognizes the year’s greatest, selfless commitment to general aviation by a private citizen. Jim Fallows won the Max Karant award for aviation journalism. Finally, Member and Forbes magazine editor Rick Karlgaard had an excellent article published in Flying Magazine.
We still have a lit of challenges ahead. COPA is always in need of volunteers. We are working toward establishing local chapters and providing more social activities. Individually, we all can set the goal of improving our skills and becoming safer pilots. This will not only keep our insurance rates low, make our friends and families happier, but will also help the Cirrus live up to its promise of becoming the safest GA airplane.
From all of us at COPA, enjoy your holidays and have a very happy and safe New Year.