The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) announced a new line of membership options created for drone pilots, a key part of an ongoing effort to unite manned and unmanned pilots for the common purpose of safe integration of all users.

Having long been recognized for leadership in aviation safety and advocacy, AOPA has already been involved with drones and related matters for about a decade, and remote pilots, many of whom are completely new to aviation, need many of the same types of support, services, information, and tools AOPA has expertly provided to the manned community for years.

“Drone pilots are seeking their place in the larger world of aviation and looking for opportunities to expand their experience,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “This is an ideal time to embrace these pilots and welcome them into the GA family, and AOPA is uniquely positioned, with the strength of nearly 350,000 members, as the long-recognized voice of GA, and represents all pilots.”

AOPA’s Senior Director of UAS programs, Kathleen “Kat” Swain, said the proposition to drone pilots who are not already AOPA members is simple: “We’re providing the community and resources all pilots need.” Swain is a CFI and has also played key roles building unmanned aircraft capabilities for the insurance industry, as well as flying humanitarian missions.

Baker continued, “As newcomers to the skies, they have told us they are looking for a trusted source to help them get the most out of their flying, protect their license and their assets, and keep them up to date on regulations and issues affecting their kind of flying. Dividing manned from unmanned aviators would rob both of many benefits, and create unnecessary conflict. We believe we are stronger as a united community, and welcome these new pilots with hope that our common goals of safety and freedom to fly will be achieved together.”

Read AOPA’s story.