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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedWe’re all in this together
By David Sakrison, EAA AirVenture Today

July 30, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin  - EAA, the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA), the Helicopter Association, International (HAI), the General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA), and the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) gathered for a “summit” panel discussion on Tuesday in the EAA Forums Plaza. “We have built a strong collaborative relationship between these organizations,” EAA President Tom Poberezny told the audience, “and collectively these organizations represent the entire spectrum of general aviation.” In his opening remarks, Poberezny alluded to the challenges facing GA. “One of the most important things we have to do,” he said, “is grow the aviation community.”

NBAA President Ed Bolen warned that GA is “under attack” and that it is the most serious attack in decades. When automobile company executives made news by flying to Washington D.C. in their corporate jets, Bolen said, a lot of people asked if that was an appropriate use of corporate aviation. Then people began to ask if there ever was an appropriate use of corporate aviation.

The numbers of active pilots, student pilots, and aircraft owners are declining, and all the panelists agreed, that too presents a serious threat to GA. We need to remember the “four Ps” of general aviation, Poberezny said: “Planes, People, Passion, and Participation.” He added, “We need to motivate our members to help get our story out.”

General aviation provides 1.2 million good jobs in the United States, Bolen said. It provides a lifeline to communities that have no commercial airline service. And it allows companies to be more productive, more efficient, and more competitive. “Our GA airports are not just for ‘fat cat executives’ and ‘wealthy hobbyists.’

“We lobby for GA, arguing that user fees, security rules, and other regulations would kill GA,” Bolen continued. “But if the public and the legislators perceive GA as excessive, unnecessary, and in the way, as they often seem to see us, no one is going to care if they kill GA. Our entire future is at stake.”

AOPA President Craig Fuller described AOPA’s “GA Serves America” campaign, as a nationwide ad campaign to promote GA to legislators, public opinion leaders, and the general public. One television ad in particular, featuring actor and pilot Harrison Ford, has been very successful. “We’re getting the message across,” he said, but much more work is needed.

Legislators and public opinion leaders who have ridden in a GA airplane usually understand the value of GA, Bolen said, “but they don’t understand how fragile it is.” And, he added, “In Washington D.C., if a group is poorly understood, it is vulnerable.”

“The big things that affect one group affect all of us,” said GAMA President Pete Bunce. “Our threats are common threats and we need to stand together to face them.”

Last year the industry saw a conscious effort to split the GA community into jets and reciprocating engines, Bolen said, in an attempt to divide and conquer GA. “We want to send the message that this community is united. And everyone in GA must be an advocate.”

In a call to action, Poberezny stated, “Write to your legislators, comment on NPRMs, fly a Young Eagle, fly a reporter or a public official. There are lots of ways ordinary people can Stand Up for GA. We need everyone to help get our message out.”

Visit the EAA Welcome Center at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh or go online to www.eaa.org to find other easy and effective ways to Stand Up for GA.

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