This piece originally ran in the September 2021 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.
As the former volunteer chairman of the EAA Legal Advisory Council, Alan Farkas, EAA Lifetime 681323, has spent many years assisting EAA members on a variety of legal and FAA-related issues, as well as advising the organization on a number of matters. An aviation attorney based in Chicago, Alan joined the Legal Advisory Council in 2005 and served as its chairman from 2011 to 2021, stepping down as chair at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021.
Since joining the council, Alan has made himself available to EAA members to discuss a plethora of different aviation-related legal questions on a daily basis.
“We have direct contact with the members, and we get exposed to the full, broad array of the membership in the issues that they raise,” Alan explained. “For somebody that is interested in aviation law, it’s an embarrassment of riches, the kinds of questions that the members bring to us. Everything from issues that arise from their own private grass airstrips to issues that involve sophisticated jet operations. Concerns with the FAA, concerns with manufacturers and kit building, just everything you can possibly imagine.”
In addition to those duties that take place year-round, Alan also volunteers during the week of AirVenture, where he is involved with forums about legal issues, staffs the advocacy booth in the membership center for Q&A sessions, and also serves on the government host committee.
“The politicians, the regulators that come to AirVenture — we as an organization, we as members have an interest in making sure that they know and understand what it is that they’re regulating,” Alan explained. “And I can give you all sorts of examples of very, very high level people that have never seen a homebuilt aircraft before, have never seen a kit aircraft being built before, have never seen the different types and variety of aircraft. It’s important that they walk away from EAA with an understanding of the various facets of the industry. So as government hosts, that’s our job. Now it’s fun, it’s enjoyable. I’ve met fascinating people doing that, but the mere fact that we’re enjoying it doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable and important.”
Although Alan is stepping down as the LAC chairman, he will continue to serve on the council as he thoroughly enjoys what he does as a volunteer for EAA and is glad he can help out members, and the aviation industry as a whole, through his service.
“I have a strange skill set, and I make a living spending far too much time doing things that don’t necessarily move the ball in a positive direction, dealing with accidents, litigation, and bad events,” he said. “My practice also involves transactional stuff that I would say is benign, but isn’t really doing anything to make the world a better place. My work with the members is rewarding. It’s enriching. I’m making a positive impact. And to be able to use that weird skill set to do things, to help people, is a rare opportunity.”
Volunteers make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — and just about everything else EAA does — possible. This space in EAA Sport Aviation magazine every month is dedicated to thanking and shining the spotlight on volunteers from the community. Sadly, it cannot capture all of the thousands of volunteers who give so much to the community every year. So, next time you see a volunteer at AirVenture or elsewhere, however they are pitching in to make EAA better, be sure to thank them for it. It’s the least we can do. Do you know a volunteer you’d like to nominate for Volunteer Spotlight? Visit EAA.org/Submissions.