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General Aviation Needs a Few Good Men (and Women)

by David Wyndham 1. March 2009 00:00
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If you haven't read Jeremy Cox's article this month, please do so. He states very eloquently both the passion that exists in General Aviation and the threats to its continued growth.


When times get rough, we look for reasons why it is happening. Oft times this can devolve into "blameology" - the search for a scapegoat or "other" to blame. John Q and Joan Q Public have plenty of fodder and unfortunately, GA fits in nicely: See the rich banker; see the rich banker drive his company into financial ruin; see the rich banker fly away in his jet with the multi-million dollar bonus. That is mostly wrong, but has enough half-truths and fits in with a simplistic explanation of "what went wrong."


In order to turn the tables, GA needs a few of its own champions. While NBAA, GAMA, NATA, AOPA and many others are all doing their very best to counter the black eye general aviation has received, what we need is really someone else. We need someone who's life isn't directly involved in aviation. Of course I want aviation to flourish, it's fun, I love the business and why would I be foolish to shoot my own occupation down? What we need are a few good men and women whose lives and businesses are bettered by aviation. Here is my shortlist.


First and most important, we need some of the folks in the back of the plane to stand up and be heard. I've not seem much news copy save for Warren Buffet and JP Morgan stated they are keeping their respective aircraft. What about the other 3,500 plus NBAA member companies? What would help if congress, the President and the newspapers heard from the legion of mid-size businesses that depend on aircraft to effectively manage and grow their companies. I'm surprised (and a little P'd off!) that more business leaders haven't shown that leadership and defended GA.


Most business aircraft consist of pistons, turboprops and light jets. While global jets are effective business tools too, the public is not in a frame of mind to hear from anyone about how that aircraft is such a business tool. Better to hear from the business owner who rides around in a 25-year old King Air how they couldn't grow and manage their company without that plane.


Second, we need to hear from the business owner-pilots. What about some Alaska bush pilot who would be out of business without his floatplane? The construction company that uses a Mooney to keep tabs on projects across the state? The doctor who uses a plane to see patients in remote areas that otherwise might not get medical care? We need "Joe the Flying Plummer."


Write a letter to the editor, your congressperson, our President. Tell them how important GA is to your business, how much in taxes you pay and remind folks that 90% of GA is Made In America. You have more Chinese made sneakers in your closet than any GA airport in America has aircraft with no US made parts.


Better a letter to the Des Moines Register that gets published than one to USA Today that doesn't. So don't worry about thinking you won't get published. Send the letter to you local paper and GA to our economy.

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David Wyndham


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