Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport.
What would you say if you were booked to make a speech titled, “The Value of Aviation?” Imagine for a moment that your audience is made up entirely of the movers and shakers of your community. Business leaders, elected officials, bureaucrats, and high level employees from the private sector will all be gathered to lend an ear to what you have to say in support of aviation.
I know what I would say. In fact, I’m about 75% along the path to knowing what I’m going to say, because I will be making that speech in a matter of weeks, to the East Polk Committee of 100, right here in Polk County, Florida.
For those who are unaware, Polk County is the home of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL), which is the host field for Sun ‘n Fun.
It may seem peculiar that there would be any question about the value of aviation in a county that benefits from such a massive influx of aviation-minded folks once a year. Sadly, the question is out there, and it is not an idle one for most businessmen and women.
A disturbing number of public officials seem to have a skeptical view of general aviation, too. And so I got the nod, and I picked up the gauntlet. As an ardent aviation enthusiast, I have no shortage of stories to tell, analogies to make, and suggestions to share. But I also have a regular readership that is reasonably bright, highly experienced, and just as enthusiastic on the topic as I am. So I intend to make use of you in my presentation. I’m not afraid to ask for help when it’s warranted. Which brings me to my question – what would you say? Tell me, and I just might use your idea in that speech. If I’m in a really good mood, I might even admit that you passed me notes and suggestions – via the Internet.
I can comfortably talk about the global economic impact of aviation. Heck, overnight shipping makes the smallest mom and pop retailer every bit as powerful and competitive in the market as a major chain store might be. And I can speak of tourism (I am in Florida after all), and flight training, and personal business travel. I can sing the praises of all those GA benefits – but I see the world from a very specific perspective – mine! I want to see it from yours too – at least this week as I prepare to make the case in front of a room full of big ‘ol muckety mucks who just might look down their noses at aviation for the reasons we all fear they might – they misunderstand GA to the point that their view of the industry and ours are almost totally unrecognizably divergent.
So share your idea. Throw something at the wall and we’ll all see if it sticks. Let’s run it up the flagpole, and I’ll promise to give you an idea of how many people in the room saluted after I’m all done.
This may be your best chance to put words in the mouth of a politician — an aviation friendly politician at that. So don’t hold back. Give me your best shot, and I promise that I’ll pick the best ideas to pass along.
The value of aviation? That’s the question. What’s your take on it?
You can comment below or email Jamie at Jamie@GeneralAviationNews.com