A happenstance help wanted ad vectored Tom Haines’ life in a whole new direction, one that would lead to new adventures and one that would benefit general aviation pilots across the globe for the next three decades.
A simple two-line help wanted ad in The Washington Post for an associate editor position at Professional Pilot magazine caused Tom, on a whim, to send in a resume, highlighting his private pilot certificate and journalism degree. A reporter at a small newspaper in his hometown in northwestern Pennsylvania, Tom had never heard of the magazine at the time. But soon, he and his wife, Brenda, were moving to Alexandria, Virginia, for the aviation magazine business. He credits Professional Pilot founder and Living Legend Murray Smith for taking a chance on a 24-year-old journalist with no magazine experience.
Learning quickly about the corporate aviation world, Tom climbed the ranks at Professional Pilot and in 1988 was hired as an associate editor at the much larger AOPA Pilot magazine. In 1994, at age 33, he became the editor in chief and senior vice president of publications at AOPA, the youngest person ever to lead one of the large aviation magazines.
Over the decades he transformed AOPA’s media division from purely print into every corner of new media—video, podcasts, email newsletters, online content—all while continuing to travel around the world, flying new airplanes from every part of the general aviation spectrum, and sharing those experiences with hundreds of thousands of readers and viewers each month.
Today, Tom is a 45-year pilot and 25-year aircraft owner with commercial single and multi-engine ratings, an instrument rating, a seaplane rating, two jet type ratings, and a second-in-command type rating in the famed World War II B-25 Mitchell bomber. A longtime Beechcraft Bonanza owner, he has flown and written about well more than 100 models of airplanes.
Through thousands of articles and videos, he has inspired countless pilots to advance their skills, take the leap into aircraft ownership, and to make safety a priority on every flight.
His writing and video skills have won many awards and he is often seen commenting about general aviation on major media sites, including NBC Today, MSNBC, and CNN.
Tom credits the Apollo space program with inspiring him to learn to fly as a teenager, soloing at 16 and earning a private pilot at 17, a move that shaped his life in ways then unimaginable and leading to an amazing career—one that that has inspired and benefited many others who take to the sky and, now, earning him a place among the Living Legends of Aviation.
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