What Does SPA Do For Me?
A legitimate question to ask ourselves from time to time is why join and support a particular organization. What does this organization “do for me”? Let’s pose the question for our association – “What Does SPA Do for Me?”
The Seaplane Pilots Association (SPA) is a non-profit organization serving the needs of the seaplane community throughout North America, as well as globally. Incorporated in 1971, the primary mission of the Seaplane Pilots Association is Advocacy. Our mission is to be the voice of the seaplane community and to aggressively advocate for seaplane waterway access on the federal, state, and local levels. SPA ensures fairness and equality for seaplanes to share public waterways with all other user groups.
Hundreds of previously closed lakes have been opened to seaplane access in the past 3 years alone through the persistence of SPA advocacy initiatives (see the “Advocacy” category on the SPA Blog and SPA Forum for details). SPA’s associated 501(c)(3) , The Seaplane Pilots Foundation (SPF), is on the cutting edge of invasive species research and education (see the article on page 18 of the Sept/Oct ’10 Water Flying Magazine). No other organization in the nation is doing this level of work on invasive species as related to seaplane operations. Through the rapidly growing financial prowess of the SPF along with the backing of its top ranking legal firm partner, your association is more capable than ever before in its history in combating the rising tide of anti-seaplane regulations from coast to coast.
To be sure, SPA doesn’t prevail in every advocacy battle – we have had disappointments. Our overall record, however, is exemplary. Representing water access for the seaplane community is the number one mission of SPA. No one does it better.
#2 – Water Flying Magazine
The premier publication of the Seaplane Pilots Association – the only nationally published seaplane magazine in the world. For those who love seaplanes, WaterFlying Magazine has been called the “National Geographic” of water flying adventure and technical expertise – spectacular imagery and engaging journalism! WaterFlying writers and photographers brilliantly capture the magic, heritage, and techniques of the world of seaplanes with distinction and pizzazz, winning the accolades of national publishers and top ranking journalists.
The production and distribution of Water Flying is the single most expensive item in SPA’s annual budget. The quality of content and physical layout and construction exceed national publications from companies many times larger than SPA. Your association devotes such a large portion of its resources to Water Flying because our members have told us again and again how important this publication is to you. “What has SPA done for me?” Water Flying magazine provides a significant part of that answer in every issue.
#3 – Safety, Education, and Environmental Stewardship
Water flying accidents lead to the public perception that seaplanes are inherently unsafe. Even a relatively minor seaplane “incident” in a New England pond can become viral nationwide “news” the following day. A perceived concern for seaplane safety is the number one reason lakes are closed to water flying access. Seaplane safety is an integral part of seaplane advocacy.
Each year SPA produces and hosts a nationally televised seaplane safety program, safety seminars at regional events throughout the country, and publishes professional seaplane safety literature from leading water flying authors. Invasive species and other aquatic environmental concerns are fast becoming the 2nd largest reason to ban seaplanes. As discussed above, the Seaplane Pilots Foundation sponsors scientific research on these issues as they directly impact seaplane operations and waterway access.
Earlier this year, SPA worked hard to convince senior FAA leaders to bring back the discontinued FAA Water Wings safety program. Sea Wings is a structured recurrent training program consisting of both course work and flight training to help maintain pilot proficiency and build new skills. Through a cooperative agreement with FAA, the Seaplane Pilots Association will provide Sea Wings lapel pins to seaplane pilots who complete each phase of this excellent FAA proficiency program.
#4 – SPA Online – Website, Forum, Newsletter, and Blog
One of SPA’s top 2010 priorities was to revitalize the Forum and Website. The Forum in particular needed serious attention, so this became “job 1”. Extraordinary resources in time and finances were devoted to building a new forum from scratch. What appeared to be a simple job to many, was in fact extremely complex due to SPA’s many imbedded interactive databases and directories.
Hopefully you have now experienced the results of these efforts with the mid-summer launch of the brand new SPA Forum. With picture posting capabilities and many other bells and whistles, the new forum has earned the praises of even its harshest critics as it becomes the “water cooler” conversation center of the seaplane community. As events, news, or gossip unfolds throughout the water flying world, you’ll learn about it first here at the SPA Forum.
Scheduled for publication in the last quarter of 2010 is the complete revision of the SPA website. The new website will bring exciting new features such as a homepage Photo Gallery and new Classified section with picture-posting capacity. Along with the new look and feel will come the feature members have been asking for most – a unified log in. Members will have a single log in for the website, forum, classified, or wherever else you want to go in the SPA Online world!
Your newsletter, Water Flying Update, compliments and fills in the news gap between magazine issues. It is up-to-the-second current and provides a depth of coverage not possible within the space constraints of a physical publication. Your newsletter is delivered exclusively through your email account so be sure the SPA office has your preferred email address (send an email to SPA@seaplanes.org, subject “Newsletter” to ensure your next issue).
SPA online media have become the interactive, real time voice of the seaplane community. These media require significant resources to produce and maintain. We hope they are important to you and you recognize the value they contribute to your SPA membership.
#5 – SPA Doesn’t Stand Alone – Powerful Partnerships and Alliances
SPA has developed a network of partners both at the national, international, and regional levels. SPA’s partnerships with AOPA span many years. Senior AOPA leaders provided helpful guidance in establishing the Seaplane Pilots Foundation On many advocacy projects SPA works in tandem with other organizations to share information, resources, and manpower. Some of these initiatives are joint ventures with our partners while others are parallel efforts to magnify the impact and add numeric strength to the causes.
SPA recognizes the value of local seaplane group affiliations and encourages our members to support them. The seaplane community is strengthened by the cooperation and mutual support of both local and national affiliations. The national essence of SPA contributes advocacy access, unequalled communications, and numeric relevance. Regional groups provide unmatched community intimacy and geographic proximity that enhance advocacy efforts. As a unified team, SPA and partner associations make a powerful ally for the seaplane community.
#6 – A Single Voice
The Seaplane Pilots Association and the Seaplane Pilots Foundation are the adhesive that binds the water flying community into a unified force. Without SPA we would still be a small collection of individual pilots, widely scattered regional groups, and commercial operations . Our organization provides the seaplane community a respected and recognized national voice, a platform for discourse, and a deep resource for problem solving. And SPA is the only organization that devotes 100% of its efforts to the needs of water fliers throughout North America and globally. SPA embodies the talents, skills, resources, and the hopes and dreams of thousands of us who love water flying.
Has SPA earned your support?
We’ve only discussed six of the many services SPA provides – “six things SPA does for you”. We haven’t yet touched on others like the Water Landing Directory, free Classifieds, exclusive SPA member insurance discount rates, personalized local water flying assistance and information provided by the resources of the experienced SPA Field Directors in every region of the country (and Canada), SPA support for local and regional splash-in’s, the fabulous SPA Corn Roast at Oshkosh, or Greenville’s complimentary member shipboard breakfast.
Our “bill-of-fare” hasn’t changed in over eight years, in spite of sky rocketing costs in every facet of our endeavor. Delivering these services consistently requires significant funding resources. Thanks to the Seaplane Pilots Foundation and support of generous donors from throughout the country, your association is making tremendous strides in keeping our waterways open to seaplane access.
If you recognize the value that our organization provides each of us everyday, we all need you to help sustain our mission. Be an SPA ambassador and encourage others to join and give SPA memberships as gifts. Lend a hand at our booths at a show during the coming season. Write an article and send us your photos for SPA publications. Make a tax-deductible donation to the Seaplane Pilots Foundation and consider a legacy gift in your will. Help ensure that our grandchildren also are able to experience the joy of water flying and have access to our public recreational waters.