FREDERICK, Md. – Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) President Mark Baker issued a statement May 3 after learning of former Rep. Jim Oberstar's death earlier in the day.
"Jim Oberstar was a champion for GA, serving as a voice of reason in Congress, fighting for aviation trust fund dollars to make their way to community airports across the country and opposing user fees," Baker said. "Oberstar and I not only shared the same home state, but a passion for protecting general aviation. He will be truly missed in the aviation community and beyond. We especially offer our heartfelt condolences to his family."
During Oberstar's time in Congress, he held a key position of influence over aviation as the ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and was a member of the House General Aviation Caucus. His leadership led to the passing of the General Aviation Product Liability Reform bill and of aviation funding bills including AIR-21 and VISION-100 that increased federal funding for airport protections and improvements.
Oberstar was one of the most reliable representatives in AOPA's efforts to protect the freedom to fly and a staunch advocate for general aviation.
Following the inadvertent violation of the Washington, D.C., Flight Restricted Zone by a general aviation aircraft in 2005, Oberstar served as a voice of reason when emotional responses from other members of Congress surged. He opposed making the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (now a special flight rules area) permanent.
Oberstar praised AOPA's Airport Watch program and the Air Safety Institute's work to raise the bar of aviation safety through in-person seminars and online training products.
In 2005, AOPA honored Oberstar with the association's most prestigious award, the Joseph B. "Doc" Hartranft Award for his tireless work on behalf of GA in Congress.
Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly for thousands of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts. AOPA is the world’s largest aviation member association, with representatives based in Frederick, Md., Washington, D.C., and seven regions across the United States. AOPA provides member services that range from advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, flight planning products, safety programs and award-winning media. To learn more, visit www.aopa.org.