March 2023 marks 50 years to the month since the National Agricultural Aviation Association’s official magazine debuted as The World of Agricultural Aviation with Vol. 1, No. 1, in March 1974. (Some years later, NAAA shortened the magazine’s title to Agricultural Aviation.) Most recently, Agricultural Aviation’s Winter 2023 issue clocked in at Vol. 50, No. 1.
From the outset, a message from NAAA’s president has graced the pages of each issue of Agricultural Aviation. The association has been blessed not only with great leaders but great communicators from its beginning (NAAA was founded Nov. 28, 1966).
Over the years, NAAA’s presidents have delivered a consistent message about the value of membership. They preached often about the need for more members to enhance NAAA’s ability to meet the industry’s needs and be an agent for agricultural aviation in Washington, D.C. Sometimes these leaders appealed to readers’ better angels. Other presidents shared in simple, practical terms why membership just makes sense. There also have been times when their message became more pointed, imploring holdouts who don’t belong to the association to get off of the sidelines and into the game for the good of the industry.
Herewith, in their own words, are the views of 10 presidents on the virtues of NAAA membership.
V. Ray Thornton, 1970 NAAA President (Louisiana): “With the trials and tribulations that face all of agriculture in this day and time, I would hate to be without representation in Washington. Why any agricultural aviator, present or future, who invests the kind of money for aircraft and support equipment can’t, or won’t, invest in this association is beyond me. Strength is in numbers.”
Don Holmes, 1977 NAAA President (Kansas): “It is difficult to understand how an intelligent, straight-thinking aerial applicator can fail to support his state and national associations. These associations are tools of ag aviation trade. They are as important as aircraft, trucks, pumps, and all the other implements operators use in aerial application every day. Associations are the tools that help bring reason to state and federal laws and regulations. Without a strong united voice, operators cannot hope to succeed in improving the regulatory picture.”
Roy Wood, 1982 NAAA President (North Carolina): “The income from a single hour of work by an agricultural aircraft is enough to pay its owner’s annual dues in the NAAA. That is a small price to pay for survival.”
Leland Shelton, 1985 NAAA President (Texas): “When we talk to Congress, EPA or FAA, we are respected because we speak for dues-paying members, for professional agricultural aviation. No one else speaks for you and you alone every day of the year.”
Vernon Orr, 1991 NAAA President (Iowa): “Every operator in the nation needs to be a member of their state and national associations and actively participate in the work and goals of those organizations. How any operator can make a valid excuse for not belonging is beyond me.”
Wayne Slaughter, 1996 NAAA President (North Carolina): “It’s easy to live in our own little bubble, working too hard to make a living. I’m interested in my business and survival for our industry. Membership dues for me are pennies compared to a new piece of equipment. It’s the cheapest money you can spend to help keep your business going.”
Rod Thomas, 2007 NAAA President (Idaho): “Whether you are an orthopedic surgeon, or an aerial applicator, you better be represented by a professional association. We have things happen to us from the regulatory end that might start a fire that our offices in Washington, D.C., get put out long before we feel the heat out in the field. It’s imperative that we have an organization like NAAA to represent us.”
Doug Chanay, 2009 NAAA President (Kansas): “Everyone should stop and reflect on how they got where they are today. If it weren’t for their local and national associations doing their jobs, our regulatory and financial burdens would be exponentially greater. Without these associations it would be difficult to imagine where we would be today. Without members, these associations wouldn’t exist.”
Rick Boardman, 2015 NAAA President (Nebraska): “I truly believe if it wasn’t for NAAA, we wouldn’t be in business now. We would be so overregulated and controlled, it would be likely that it’d be impossible to do our job.”
Craig Craft, 2023 NAAA President (North Carolina): “We have a heavy workload ahead for our industry, and there is no substitute for member participation. Our political adversaries are experts at inclusion and mobilization. In this, we should strive to replicate their success.”
So there you have it: 10 reasons to be an NAAA member from 10 past and present NAAA presidents. If you aren’t a member already, let their words sink in and become an NAAA member today. Whether you are an operator, pilot or ally of the aerial application industry, it is one of the best investments you can make for yourself and your business.
To join, call 202-546-5722 or visit agaviation.org/membership.