WASHINGTON, D.C. — After years of operating in the shadows, general aviation is gaining, at last, some of the recognition it deserves through a new spirit of cooperation among many groups, organizations, businesses, elected officials, and charitable organizations.
For years some GA leaders focused more on their own particular issues than on the common good. But in recent years more and more have come to realize what a few forward-looking individuals had been preaching: In unity there is strength.
In 2007, the Alliance for Aviation Across America (AAAA) was formed with the initial membership of the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), League of Cities, and a few others. Membership has since grown to more than 5,500 agricultural groups, FBOs, airports, charitable organizations, elected officials, businesses, individuals, and aviation groups. Membership includes more aviation groups like the Experimental Aircraft Association, National Air Transportation Association, Helicopter Association International, and Balloon Federation. Non-aviation groups who know what general aviation does are also members, such as the American Corn Growers Association, League of Rural Voters, and National Agriculture Association.
NASAO members have been active in getting states to produce data about general aviation at the local levels. Most states now have significant data about what local airports and GA mean in jobs, economic contributions, and services to the areas. Results have even surprised some governors. Many have declared General Aviation Months or other special times to bring this to the attention of local citizens. Perhaps you have noticed the increases in these positive reports. Matt Hagar, of AAAA, commented that at least a governor’s declaration gets mention by the media in the capital cities. Most are carried in media throughout the states and frequently nationally. More than a dozen states have issued proclamations about GA. Also some cities and counties have recognized their local airports.
“One of the things we are trying to do,” says NASAO Executive Director Henry Ogrodzinski, “is to call them ‘Community Airports,’ which conveys a positive and understandable meaning.”
Another positive step is promotion by state aviation officials to help members of state legislative bodies form general aviation caucuses, like those formed in the federal House and Senate.
Conditions for general aviation aren’t yet CAVU, but present conditions seem to indicate conditions are brightening.