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Matt Desch named chair of AOPA President’s Council

Members of the President’s Council represent a high level of commitment to aviation philanthropy, with their annual gift of $10,000 or more.

Desch has been an AOPA member since graduating high school, and has served on AOPA’s Board of Trustees for the past 10 years.

“Over time, it became important for me to protect, support and expand this amazing privilege we have in general aviation. [AOPA President] Mark Baker and [AOPA Foundation Executive Director] Melissa Rudinger asked me to take on this role, and I am here to help AOPA and aviation grow and thrive,” he said. “We have a lot of opportunities in front of us and I believe the organization is in the best place I’ve seen over my 20 years of direct involvement. We have all the right people and programs in place for success.”

Desch serves as CEO of Iridium, a leading global mobile voice and data satellite communications company. He has led the company since 2009 and served as CEO of the company’s predecessor, Iridium Holdings LLC, from 2006 to 2009. Desch has also served on the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.

“There is nobody better suited for this role than Matt,” said Baker. “Leading the President’s Council and providing a strong voice with our leadership is the perfect match with his professional and aviation background. We look forward to great results with Matt at the helm.”

Desch has an extensive aviation résumé. He “fell in love with aviation” at 9 years old when he took a $5 ride in a Piper Cherokee 6 in Dayton, Ohio. He was an Aviation Explorer (part of Boy Scouts of America’s Learning for Life program) in his teens, serving as president, and completed ground school while in high school. Desch soloed at 16, got his private certification at 18, and earned an instrument rating in his thirties.

Desch proudly owned and flew a Cessna T210 for almost 18 years, primarily from his home base in Texas, and in other places around the world while his career progressed. With more than 2,400 hours, now a commercial pilot with multiengine and seaplane ratings, he flies a Daher TBM 910 out of Northern Virginia.

Desch is looking forward to the role with great anticipation.

“I hope my passion for aviation and enthusiasm for AOPA rubs off on others,” he added. “I wouldn’t ask anyone to do something I wouldn’t. And what I ask is that my fellow pilots and AOPA members look back at how aviation changed their lives, and join me in protecting this wonderful passion.”

To learn more about the AOPA Foundation and the myriad ways to help protect the freedom to fly, please visit

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