South Dakota holds rally for general aviation

Rallying for General Aviation in Pierre, SD
Posted: Aug 31, 2011 7:24 PM EDT Updated:Aug 31, 2011 7:25 PM EDT

By Courtney Collen of KSFY News Sioux Falls, SD

One thing many South Dakotans don't often think about is General Aviation. Hundreds gathered for a rally in Pierre, SD today to show support making sure the multi-billion dollar industry continues to grow.

General Aviation is vital in our state especially with areas like health care, agriculture, politics and law enforcement. Wednesday's rally sent a message that this type of aviation is a crucial part of our everyday economy, creating jobs and generating not only millions of dollars in South Dakota but billions through the country.

Warren Pietsch flew this plane in from Texas. It's a 1942 bomber used in World War II. It's one he calls extremely unique, not only because it's his job, flying is his life.

"When I was 10 years old, I painted a picture of one of them on my bedroom wall, 10 feet long, and started to dream about having the chance to fly one," Warren Pietsch said.

His passion for aviation runs in the family.

"My father started a business very similar to this in the 40s in Minot, ND which my wife and I still run there. So general aviation has been my living since before I Was born," Pietsch said.

He's not the only one with that passion. More than 100 people gathered in Pierre for the same reason, knowing this type of aviation is vital in the state.

"We have a large state, vast geography, wide open space so we have great history and heritage with G.A. In South Dakota. So it's really important that we appreciate that but we also look at that continuing in the future and that's what many of the people here are interested in and committed to," Senator John Thune said.

"It's encouraging to see that I'm not the only one who feels that way and that there's a group of people here that support where we're going," Pietsch said.

His goal is to get whoever he can involved in the industry.

"It's up to us to go out and educate the public on G.A. About what it does for us as the general public. That is saving lives, saving property, transporting people, entertainment and all those things," Pietsch said.

In the state of South Dakota alone, the General Aviation industry has contributed more than $50 million into the economy. In the U.S., it's more than $150 billion. In addition to that, the industry has supported more than one million jobs nationwide.