To all NATA members….
As strong weather fronts sweep across the country this week, it is a good time to remember that in our business change is always just around the corner. Today, change is in the wind here at NATA.
The NATA Board of Directors and I have decided that 2012 will be my last year as president of NATA. Since 1994, it has been my honor to represent you here in Washington and in various public forums across the country. This job hasn’t always been easy, but together with an outstanding NATA staff we’ve been a consistent proponent for the interests of aviation businesses like yours.
I will continue to lead your association until January 1, 2013, when someone new will move into the NATA cockpit. Until then, I will support the board in the transition process and work to hand over to the new pilot of NATA an airworthy association, prepared for the challenges that our industry will face in 2013 and beyond. I’m sure that he or she will take NATA to new heights and continue our long tradition of being the voice of aviation business – strong, articulate, and undaunted.
As I told the NATA board and staff last week, pilots always have various waypoints in their flight plans and this upcoming waypoint is something that we all knew I would eventually reach. For Holly and me, it will mean a chance to refuel, change our heading a bit, and perhaps even move to a different flight level, but I sincerely hope that my association with you and thousands of other NATA members will continue, though in a different form or venue.
Long before I came to Washington as a freshman congressman in 1980, I was an aviation advocate. For nearly 40 years, I’ve been flying into FBOs, getting to know many NATA members even before I knew what NATA was. Now after visits to more than a thousand FBOs, repair stations, flight schools, charter operators, and airline services companies around the world, I continue to be amazed by the outstanding class of citizens who run businesses like yours. Meeting these men and women, whom I call the backbone of our national air transportation system, has been something that Holly and I will cherish forever.
When I was just a little tyke, my grandfather gave me the nickname “small change,” while tossing me a dime to remind me eponymously of our common surname. Looking back over these eighteen years, there are many changes at NATA and across the landscape of our industry, some small but some rather big, that give me great satisfaction, even if my role was only as a catalyst to help good ideas flourish. But it is your support of NATA and these various initiatives, from our Safety 1st training revolution to the good work of the Air Charter Safety Foundation to the continuing growth of our Workers’ Compensation Program to the scores of legislative and regulatory recommendations that became official policy or programs that insured that these ideas became a reality. Your continued support of NATA and our new leadership team means that our future flight plan will help us overcome the headwinds that lie ahead with the same energy, expertise, and enthusiasm that NATA has always had.
In closing, let me invite you to attend one of the many scheduled NATA events this year, if only to give Holly and me a chance to express personally our gratitude for your support and friendship over the past eighteen years. You have helped build the finest transportation system the world has ever known, and I know that NATA’s future will be even bigger and brighter. The winds are always changing – but for you, me, and every other NATA member, that change means opportunity.
James K. Coyne