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President's Position: As you like itPresident's Position: As you like it

Staying current in a digital world

“Alexa, what’s the weather today?” It’s hard to believe, but nearly one in three families are asking their home devices questions like this each morning as the technology is becoming more mainstream in U.S. households. With the ability to brief you on the daily forecast, play your favorite music, and answer thousands of trivia questions, it’s no surprise that smart devices are here to stay and rapidly changing how we live.

But it’s not just Alexa. Emerging technology and innovations such as artificial intelligence, touch screens, smartphones, and social media constantly transform the way we communicate, amuse ourselves, and consume news. For pilots, that also means new ways to obtain information.

A recent AOPA study shows that U.S. pilots dialing flight service for initial preflight weather briefings has declined from 54 percent in 2017 to 37 percent today. Instead, pilots are opting for online alternatives and apps to get weather information. So, what does that mean for the beloved 1-800-WX-BRIEF?

If you ask me, nothing can replace the wealth of knowledge doled out by a briefer trained in meteorology, especially when that go/no-go decision becomes dicey. While I’m all for innovation, having the most reliable and detailed information straight from an expert provides an additional level of security when it comes to the often-unpredictable wrath of mother nature.

Whether it’s weather, safety, training, or aviation news, AOPA recognizes that each of us has our own preferences and ways we prefer to receive information. Maybe you like the feel of print; maybe you like the immersive experience of videos; maybe you like to multi-task and listen to a podcast while driving or cooking dinner. No matter your preference, AOPA will always strive to bring its members the greatest aviation content available, whether or not you choose to invite Alexa into your homes.

Emerging technology and innovations constantly transform the way we communicate, amuse ourselves, and consume news.Since our flagship magazine AOPA Pilot launched in 1958, it has been recognized as the most authoritative aviation magazine in the world—a description that hasn’t faltered to this day. Readers get to gaze at stunning aerial photography, and enjoy feature stories on flying destinations, safety tips, aircraft ownership, and cockpit technology.

Meanwhile, keeping up with the latest in industry news has never been easier. And because not everyone has a penchant for print, AOPA also offers several digital ways to consume information. If you want access to content beyond what a monthly magazine can provide, our website, AOPA.org, has the most up-to-date, hard-hitting news in general aviation. Our weekly video newscast, AOPA Live This Week, presents the week’s news in an easy-to-watch, lean-back sort of way. Members also can take advantage of tools such as our recently updated AOPA Airport Directory, which has current fuel prices and fees listed from various FBOs across the country.

Additionally, we have found that audiences have an appetite for podcasts, especially younger listeners ages 12 to 24. Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have played a huge role in the growth of podcasts, and AOPA is riding that wave. You can tune in to any of AOPA’s podcasts, among them Hangar Talk, There I Was, or Pilot Briefing through the AOPA app, AOPA’s website, or your favorite podcast site.

Those who are fond of safety tips and educational videos already know that the AOPA Air Safety Institute is the leader in creating quality educational and training resources. The institute’s research and analysis also helps guide other organizations in creating and implementing better training standards to improve safety. For more visual learners, ASI has a vast library of free safety content that reaches millions of users a year, providing the knowledge to make them safer. One of ASI’s newest video series, Real Pilot Story from the Field, takes viewers into the cockpit with real pilots who have experienced unpredictable in-flight conditions, and shows them how they overcame those adverse situations.

We’ve made leaps and bounds in the past few decades alone. It’s never been easier to network with our thousands of virtual “friends” and share content with them through social media. But I will always be a firm believer that there’s nothing like meeting my real friends—our members—in person at our various AOPA events. Quality time spent with friends and family is irreplaceable, and that’s something that will always remain true.

Email mark@aopa.org

Mark Baker

Mark Baker

Mark Baker is AOPA’s fifth president. He is a commercial pilot with single- and multiengine land and seaplane ratings and a rotorcraft rating.

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