Mark Baker, the President and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), has a unique perspective on General Aviation. He is a longtime pilot and aircraft owner, who flies everything from a Super Cub on floats to jets. He’s also an accomplished business leader. He has served as COO at Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, CEO of outdoor outfitter Gander Mountain Company, and chief merchandizing officer for The Home Depot. In all of these roles, airplanes were an important part of his personal and professional life. Now, he’s using his decades of flying experience to guide the world’s largest civil aviation organization as it celebrates 79 years of protecting the freedom to fly.

A native Minnesotan, Baker graduated from the University of Minnesota, earned his pilot certificate in his twenties and has logged more than 7,500 hours of flight time. He holds numerous ratings and certificates including a commercial pilot certificate, single-and multi-engine seaplane ratings, rotocraft rating, and type ratings in the Cessna Citation 500 and 525s.

Along with his many duties, the AOPA Foundation is funding programs that will raise awareness of general aviation among non-pilots, teach pilots how to communicate effectively with the media, and promote positive stories about the varied ways GA serves America.