Obit: AOPA's Mike Collins, 59, Passionate GA Advocate

 - March 2, 2021, 9:41 AM

Michael P. "Mike" Collins, who spent nearly three decades with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) in various senior editorial and management roles, died on February 25 in Frederick, Maryland, from Covid-19. He was 59.

“Mike’s always positive and helpful attitude opened many doors for him and gained him great respect here at AOPA and around the industry,” said AOPA president and CEO Mark Baker. “All of aviation has suffered a loss with his untimely passing.”

Born on Dec. 21, 1961, in Cleveland, Ohio, Collins graduated from Western Kentucky University in 1984 with a degree in photojournalism. He embarked on a career as a newspaper photographer and editor, but then helped launch The Southern Aviator, a regional aviation magazine that was at the time based in North Carolina, according to his obituary information.

In 1994, he joined AOPA as managing editor of AOPA Pilot magazine. AOPA said he “quickly became an integral player on the media team,” leading the magazine production process for AOPA Pilot and Flight Training, as well as steering the growth of its email newsletters such as AOPA ePilot. Most recently he was technical editor and director of business operations.

Collins remained passionate about photography, helping to mentor others in the discipline and serving as the main organizer of the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar’s photography awards program for many years. More recently he served on the board of the International Society of Aviation Photographers. He also recently earned a Part 107 sUAS certificate to use drones in photography and videography. In addition, Collins was a private pilot with an instrument rating.

“Words cannot convey the grief we feel with the passing of our friend and colleague,” added Tom Haines, AOPA senior v-p of media, communications, and outreach, and editor-in-chief. “Anyone who has ever read a story in our magazines or our email newsletters has benefited from Mike’s expertise.”

Collins is survived by his wife, Janette, who works in the AOPA Pilot Information Center, and children Jennifer, Matthew, and Bridget.