|EAA members cast their votes for Class I directors at the annual meeting. (photo by Jason Toney)
|Members take turns asking questions of the board at the 2013 annual meeting. (photo by Jason Toney)
By J. Mac McClellan
July 30, 2013 - An unusually large number of members attended the annual EAA meeting of the membership at the Theater in the Woods on Wednesday morning.
And the attitude among those in attendance, and the reports from the chairman and directors, was overwhelmingly positive.
EAA Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton opened the meeting by reiterating how appreciative the directors and leadership of EAA are for the hard work of the thousands of volunteers that make EAA and Oshkosh AirVenture possible.
Jack thanked the EAA directors for making some very hard decisions over the past nine months to restore the association to its course. He said EAA is again devoted to serving its members and volunteers, and to helping grow participation in all forms of aviation.
He said actions by the directors since the last annual meeting demanded making difficult choices, but he is confident that EAA is now on a path to remain stable, vital, and relevant in the aviation world.
Jack said the board has made preserving communities within EAA and aviation a major objective, along with continuing strong advocacy to preserve the rights of homebuilders, to simplify medical qualification for recreational flying, and to preserve the freedom to fly for all forms of personal aviation.
Stuart Auerbach, board finance committee chairman, reported that the association's financial position is sound despite the volatile economic conditions of the past five years. He reported a small increase in overall income, which was $36.3 million for the fiscal year that ended in February. Income from AirVenture Oshkosh was down slightly, but membership showed an increase, and there was a substantial gain in investment income.
On the other side of the ledger Auerbach reported that overall expenses were down about 6 percent to $34.3 million. The largest spending decrease was in general operational expenses that include staffing costs, which were down 41 percent compared to the previous year. The only significant spending increase was for investment in facilities for the AirVenture grounds to keep the event experience at the level people demand.
Auerbach reported that at the bottom line EAA ended the fiscal year with approximately a $2 million gain in net assets.
A fundamental function of the annual meeting of the membership is to elect Class 1 directors that serve a three-year term. There were 174 members present who had not designated their proxy, and 25,865 represented by proxy.
Seven Class 1 director positions were open for election, and a total of 20 EAA members had been nominated. Elected to the board by the members were:
- Stuart Auerbach, EAA 689374 (incumbent)
- James "CB" Clark, EAA 500238
- Eileen Drake, EAA Lifetime 852455 (incumbent)
- Alan Klapmeier, EAA Lifetime 141042
- Phil Martineau, EAA 593215 (incumbent)
- Jim Phillips, EAA 149430 (incumbent)
- Cody Welch, EAA 115674
- Charlie Precourt, EAA Lifetime 150237, was an incumbent Class 1 director who remains on the board as a Class 3 director elected by board members.
Jack continues his three-year term as chairman until the fall of 2015 when, under the change in articles of incorporation approved at the meeting, he could be elected for another and final three-year term as chair.
There has been some confusion over Jack's role at EAA with reports that a search for a new president or CEO will begin after Oshkosh. In response to that question, Dan Schwinn, chair of the governance and human resources committee, said in an interview in the July issue of Sport Aviation, "The board plans to add a senior person to the leadership team, but we haven't decided on a title or specific responsibilities. The position may be a CEO or president, but it could be another title and job description."
Schwinn said after the meeting that nothing has changed and the board will make decisions on the issue sometime in the future.
During the open member comment and question period a number of people took the microphone. The prevailing theme of the comments was the volunteers again feel appreciated and respected; that EAA was back on track and headed in the right direction; morale is greatly restored among members and volunteers at Oshkosh; volunteers are again optimistic about the future; congratulations were offered to the directors for making very difficult decisions over the past nine months; thanks for a new and expanded safety emphasis in Sport Aviation and other EAA publications; several pleas for Jack Pelton to continue in his role; and comments from a member who is also a traffic controller reminding all that the main mission of ATC is safety.
The few negative comments revolved mostly around the FAA charges for controller services; failure of the FAA administrator to come to Oshkosh; and replacement of the Learn to Fly center with the Innovations Pavilion.
Moving the annual meeting of the membership from Saturday morning to Wednesday was clearly a success in terms of attracting many more members. And the doughnuts, as promised, were abundant and tasty.