Most Frequently Asked Questions



Most Frequently Asked Questions – California Pilots Association


Q: What is the California Pilots Association Mission?
Established in 1949, we are a statewide non-profit committed to the support of our state general aviation airports and flight privileges.

 Our objectives are:

  • Growing General Aviation
  • Airport/infrastructure support and advocacy
  • Advice/Expert Testimony
  • Research, Education/Information, and
  • Events – such as our Annual Meeting and statewide meet and greet meetings

 We are a statewide non-profit served by volunteers. All money collected in the form of dues or donations is used to deal with the many issues that our airports face – no one is paid. To continue our success, we need your support. A membership is less than 10 cents per day. Aren’t your airport and your aviator privileges worth that amount? Please join us in helping you in protecting your airport.

Q: Why was the California Pilots Association formed?
A: Our founders understood that general aviation airports required protection – California has lost many of its general aviation airports. Our airports are an important part of the state’s transportation infrastructure and play a vital role in the states’ economy. Lack of vision on the part of elected and public officials, as well as encroachment and apathy continue to be the enemy of airports. In a sense, CalPilots was formed to protect the state from itself, since the legislature still isn’t actively addressing airport encroachment. 

Q: How many California airports have been closed?
A: Since 1990 over 30 of our airports have been lost. It is difficult to estimate how many have been closed in the last 50 years, but we can approximate that 60-70 airports have been closed.

Q: Who serves as Board Members of the California Pilots Association?
The board of California Pilots Association is made up of statewide volunteers serving two year terms. We are constantly seeking volunteers; if you are interested please contact us.

Q:  I already belong to AOPA, EAA, 99’s or NBAA – Why join the California Plots Association?
A: The short answer – state aviation issues are increasing and the national aviation organizations can no longer address them all, or protect all of our airports.

We have to do more to protect general aviation airports. As a result, CalPilots created the “Three Tiered Aviation Defense Strategy” model which states that aviation enthusiasts should belong to all three – local, statewide, and national aviation organizations. Further, all three tiers must work together, which is beginning to happen. It is vital that all, aviators and enthusiasts, get involved. Each of us can do something to help, no matter how small. Read about the Three Tiered Defense

Q: What has CalPilots we done for you lately?
check it out.

Q: How much are dues?
A: Annual dues for individuals are $35.00 per year; Chapters and Member Organization memberships $50.00 per year; and Business Partners pay $250.00 per year. We also offer a Lifetime Membership for $500.00

Q: How does the money from my dues get spent?
A: There are no salaries or payroll. All of your annual dues or donations support the costs of the following organizational activities

  • Bi-Monthly paper Newsletter
  • Website
  • Board expenses such as travel (i.e. mileage) meetings with groups
  • Trips to Sacramento to work with Legislators
  • Lawsuits – over a dozen filed to date to force airport sponsors to follow the law

Q: How can I contact a board member in my area?
A: The easiest way to contact us is using the Contact button on this website,  In the CalPilots Board section, you will also find a map which shows the state’s five regions.

Q: Do I have to be a pilot to become a member of the California Pilots Association?
A: Anyone who shares an interest in aviation is invited to join.

Q: How can I protect my airport?
It is important to understand that organized local aviators are the first defense of their airport. Being proactive is important, since being reactive means lost time which might be critical to issue resolution. CALPILOTS’ position is that all airport users should belong to their local airport/pilot organization (see Three Tiered Defense).

Q: Can the California Pilots Association help resolve local issues at my airport?
Yes – The California Pilots Association will assist and guide your organization in the resolution of, and suggest a strategy to address your airport’s issues. We cannot however, lead each fight. Locals are required to do the ongoing ground work to resolve their airport issues.

Q: Are there any airport related issues that the California Pilots Association does not support?
A: Standard hangar rent /tie down fee increases, and airport manager relationship issues, are best left to those involved to resolve. Experience has shown that resolution of these issues requires that all parties sit down in a respectful, courteous and businesslike manner. The continuous state budget crisis dictates creating partnerships – which lead to success.

Q: What advice can you provide to pilots on how to protect their airports?
A: The following points are very effective:

  • It is important to educate and organize.
  • If you do not belong to a local airport/pilot organization, then join one. If none exists, then it is time to start one – we can help you
  • Determine who your airport decision makers are, county or city council. Then establish a working relationship; and don’t forget to include city/county planners and the airport manager
  • Become educated and involved in all airport matters
  • Attend council meetings with airport related business, especially new development proposals
  • Work together with your airport manager – Why? – because he/she can be a huge asset helping you deal with issues at hand
  • Get involved – each of us can do something to help, no matter how small

Q: Why are there so many issues surrounding airports?
A: The short answer is that airports are developed with open land surrounding them to mitigate the inevitable safety and noise issues associated with aviation. In California, guidelines were developed years ago by the Caltrans Division of Aeronautics (DoA). Called Safety Zones, they are designed to determine what type of development can be approved in specific areas around airports. It is this same open land area that attracts development.

Over the years, lack of general aviation organization and oversight resulted in missing some developers inappropriate relationships with elected and city/county officials. Additionally many politicians and local officials think short term – revering development tax revenues, but ignoring the inevitable long term issues airport encroachment brings with it (Santa Monica is probably the best example of this issue). When elected and public officials decline to follow the letter of the process for development around airports, the general aviation community must act to maintain the Caltrans Division of Aeronautics development guidelines.

The only way to accomplish this goal is to hold elected and city/county officials accountable. We must proactively educate ourselves, public officials and the public on airport land development and change to an offensive strategies posture.

General aviation airports will continue to disappear unless we change our reactionary approach and begin to proactively promote and protect them. When elected and public officials cannot be relied upon to do their jobs responsibly – and sometimes we need to use the process to force them to do so.

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