The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is still planning to hold this year’s annual Aviation Summit Oct. 10-12 in Fort Worth, but the association is scrapping plans for future summits to concentrate on a series of “grassroots” local events that will bring its new President Mark Baker to the members.

The decision marks the first major shift for the association under Baker, who officially took the helm on Sept. 6, succeeding Craig Fuller, who served as president and CEO since late 2008.

Baker, formerly the chief of San Jose-based Orchard Supply Hardware Stores, is only the fifth person to lead the association, which is preparing to celebrate its 75th anniversary next year. A pilot and AOPA member since 1987, he brings a background of managing a large corporation to the association.

In announcing his appointment to AOPA, Baker said he planned to focus on the association’s mission of protecting the freedom to fly and plans to gather feedback from members to best focus association resources.

“One of my biggest priorities is to meet members in venues that truly spark their passion,” Baker says. “I want our members to make a personal connection with AOPA, and that is best achieved by meeting them where they fly.”

AOPA says that while the summit has served as a good venue to meet with members, it “no longer made sense for the organization and its members to invest in a single large event.” Instead, the association is planning to redirect those resources to local events at community airports.

“This decision is about going out to where our members are, maximizing the number of pilots that we reach on an annual basis,” Baker says. “And it will also give me a real opportunity to spend quality time with members and seek their honest feedback in a more comfortable and relaxed setting.”