West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin is bullish on GA.
That’s probably why he was invited to speak at the General Aviation Serves America Rally at the AOPA Aviation Summit earlier this month.
Manchin, who has been a pilot and AOPA member for 41 years, told the crowd that he is a great example “that you can be a pilot and grow a successful business.” Flying aided him greatly in his political success, he added.
“I was able to make more campaign opportunities than my opponent could,” he said, noting that West Virginia has 35 airports, but only seven have commercial traffic. “GA is the lifeblood of our state. We couldn’t make it without those small airports.”
Manchin, who said his state supports its GA airports, also said West Virginia is aggressively going after GA pilots. “We want aircraft owners to be hangared in West Virginia and to buy fuel here,” he said.
In talking to the crowd, Manchin noted that the threats pounding GA are very real. “If we lose these airports and they price us out of the market, God help us,” he said. “We’ll go the way of the railroads.”
He urged those in the crowd to go back to their homes and “talk to your governors, your legislators and your senators,” he said. “You have a chance to be involved. We want you invested in aviation.”
Speaking of investments, Manchin said that GA doesn’t need a stimulus package. Rather, his message to Washington is: “Just leave me alone and I’ll keep aviation moving.”
“In West Virginia, we’re planning our way through this recession,” he continued. “We can plan for aviation to come out of this stronger than before.”
For more information: WVGov.org.