Interview with Hans Gutmann, new President of the General Aviation Commission

Elected GAC President at the recent GAC 2010 Annual Meeting, Hans – or Johann - Gutmann is a well known figure of the General Aviation and Amateur-Built Aircraft world.

Born in 1948 in Stockerau (Austria), Hans was trained as a cabinetmaker. Passionate for flying, he obtained the Private Pilot Licence, the Flight Instructor License and the Commercial Pilot License with instrument rating. After numerous delivery flights between Austria and the USA, it was time to realise his dream of flying around the world in a plane built by himself.

Hans started building his Glasair IIS-RG plane in 1989 and put the finishing touches to it in 1995. He achieved the tour around the world the following year, flying for 167 hours and landing in 30 different places throughout the world.

Involved for many years in the FAI, Hans has held several positions as Technical Adviser, Alternate Delegate, Delegate and Chairman in the General Aviation Commission as well as in the Amateur-Built Aircraft Commission.

What is the current state of the General Aviation Commission ?
For decades we have had Precision and Navigation Championships, but with time the number of participants in these disciplines has decreased. In our fast changing world, the newly developed Air Navigation Race (ANR) will give General Aviation Championships a push forward. I have no doubt that the ANR will give us the opportunity to entice young participants, because it is publicly attractive, easy to organise and cheaper to participate in. The other positive point in introducing the ANR is that with time we will be able to recruit new pilots and teams for Precision and Navigation Championships from these ANR teams.

What exciting developments and initiatives do you intend to introduce as GAC President in the near future ?
To make our activities more visible to the public (and not only known by pilots), we have to appoint a PR expert within our commission(s) (and not only ours). The next World Air Games will be held in 2013, and on this occasion the ANR will be presented to the world in a competition for the first time.
Therefore, the main focus of the GAC is to encourage all of the National Aero Clubs around the world to introduce the ANR in their countries in order to get the best teams participating in 2013.

In your opinion what are the most important challenges the GAC will face in the upcoming years ?
Besides rulemaking, listing record flights and watching championships, I think we should become more active to keep General Aviation alive. We have to increase our lobbying in legislative bodies to gain more influence in the reduction of restrictions for General Aviation. To do so, we need to motivate the FAI members to use their influence to bring the subject of aviation sports back onto political agendas.

The organisation of two competitions was awarded at the recent GAC Annual Meeting. What positive effects can General Aviation competitions bring to organisers?
Government members, politicians and influential people generally like to attend big sport events, as it is a way for them to meet the public. If we promote our air sports events efficiently, these people will be interested in attending our opening and/or prizegiving ceremonies of World and European Championships. Organisers will have a unique opportunity to discuss with them, their needs and requests for General Aviation and air sports.