This weekend I have the privilege of spending some time in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Skies may be gray, but the prospects for GA are sunny. I’m here to take part in the Northwest Aviation Conference, which brings together pilots from Washington, California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and more.
This region is particularly active for pilots, and there are a great many places best reached by small aircraft. The conference is being held in Puyallup, just outside Seattle.
I started my trip by joining the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association for dinner—it the largest such event yet. With so much water around, it’s no wonder that flying floatplanes is a major pastime in these parts.
I’ve also spoken to attendees at the Northwest Aviation Conference—an annual gathering of as many as 10,000 pilots from the region. And I’m meeting with leaders from most of the largest aviation associations in the region.
Joining me are Greg Pecoraro, our vice president for airports and state advocacy, and David Ulane, northwest mountain regional manager for AOPA, so I have the advantage of having with me experts on the area and specific issues affecting pilots here.
Coming here is a wonderful chance to speak directly to pilots in this part of the country about their concerns, and to collaborate with them on the issues that affect us all, including preserving our access to airspace, protecting our airports (on land and water), simplifying customs and border issues, and preventing onerous regulations from compromising our freedom to fly.
We enjoy updating pilots on our national efforts, but we also listen closely to what they tell us about their flying. And we take that insight back to Washington where it helps us advocate for the needs of all pilots in all parts of the country.
Perhaps that’s the most important lesson I can take from all of these meetings. Though the specifics may differ according to where we live, the goals of all general aviation pilots are the same—enjoy our unique freedom to fly, and ensure that it remains intact for our children and grandchildren after us.