Inhofe was the driving force behind “the Pilot’s Bill of Rights which leveled the playing field between pilots and the FAA during enforcement proceedings,” “the BasicMed program used by tens of thousands of pilots,” “extending the Volunteer Protection Act to include volunteer pilots,” and reducing checkride wait times. He also opposed GA user fees and attempts to raise taxes on GA, and successfully fought against ATC privatization.
During the awards gala at Signature Flight Support’s Hangar 7 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., AOPA will also honor others who have made significant contributions to GA.
The Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Award, named for AOPA’s first president, is awarded each year to an elected or appointed official for making “significant contributions to the advancement of GA.” This year, the award will be presented to retired Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) for his longtime support of GA on Capitol Hill. He successfully opposed ATC privatization and GA user fees, and stood up for aviation during the push to enable 5G C-band wireless network activation.
The Sharples Award, named for our first chairman of the board, Laurence P. Sharples, is presented to people “who may not work directly in aviation but who have made extraordinary contributions to GA.” The 2023 award will be bestowed on Mike Dale, a pilot based at Culpeper Regional Airport in Virginia. Dale has a long history in the automotive industry, becoming president of Jaguar Cars Inc. in 1992, and was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Dale serves as the chairman of the Culpeper Airport Advisory Committee on a biyearly rotation and was integral to eliminating a county aircraft persona property tax, “which resulted in a surge in aircraft based at Culpeper and the right economic conditions for new T-Hangar development. This airport continues to be a model for other airports wishing to grow and become financially self-sustaining.”
The Brigadier General Charles McGee Aviation Inspiration Award will be presented to Ramone Hemphill for his work on The 99th Squadron, a “nonprofit designed to introduce young students, and particularly students of color, to the career opportunities that can be found in aviation.” McGee was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II. The award was first presented to McGee and now “is bestowed upon the aviator who best lives up to the ideals of McGee and pays it forward for generations to come.”
The AOPA Air Safety Institute will present the General Aviation Safety Award to the National Association of Air Traffic Controllers, honoring the group’s “exceptional safety performance and innovations.”
The AOPA Foundation Future of Flight Award will be given to Scott Donnelly and Textron. Donnelly is the CEO of Textron. The company donated to the AOPA Foundation and its High School Aviation STEM Curriculum in 2022 “to further introduce high school students to rewarding career opportunities in aviation.”
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