Star power met political power Tuesday, April 27, when actor Harrison Ford came to Capitol Hill to talk with members of Congress and staff members. The popular star, who is an avid general aviation supporter, drew an estimated 160 persons who heard him tell how he uses his several aircraft and what general aviation means to communities, the economy, and special services, as well personal and business travel.
Ford pointed out that general aviation’s impact produces 1.3 million jobs and contributes $150 billion annually to the economy. He added that most persons also overlook the services, such as medical flights and police work, that general aviation performs. He told the gathering that general aviation pilots fly 118,000 hours of volunteer work on free medical missions, Civil Air Patrol, and other public service flights. This prompted one member of Congress to ask Ford to describe general aviation’s contributions to the Haiti people after the earthquake.
Craig Fuller, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, who introduced Ford and shared in the discussions, said that AOPA realized the need to get a better understanding for general aviation and welcomed Ford’s contributions.
Ford said it is vital that the country continue to move general aviation ahead and to attract more persons into the activity because so much comes out of it. Attracting more young people into general aviation is needed, he said, pointing to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles program that has resulted in 1.5 million youngsters getting their first flights in general aviation aircraft.
The actor thanked members of Congress for resisting user fees, saying that this was appreciated by all pilots and helped to maintain general aviation’s contributions to the nation. He asked the audience to make sure general aviation maintains its freedom.
Commenting that “show business has been good to me,” Ford said he has several aircraft with each one serving a different purpose. He said he was grateful that he has been able to contribute in a small way to the advancement general aviation, which was his reason for coming to talk with members and their staffs.