For those of us who live in the “lower 48,” Alaska can sometimes feel a world away. But it’s a state I love to visit, not least because so many of the residents are involved in general aviation.
Today I had the privilege to be part of an event with Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, as well as Pete Bunce of GAMA, Tom Hendricks of NATA, and Ed Bolen of NBAA. Sen. Begich co-chairs the Senate General Aviation Caucus and routinely speaks out against user fees and in favor of general aviation. He’s worked to ensure that avgas remains available even as the industry seeks safe and affordable alternatives. And he has fought hard against new taxes for GA operators. In short he’s a real friend to GA.
The crowd that gathered for the event was enthusiastic about protecting GA, too. And for good reason. Tourism is an important part of Alaska’s economy and hundreds of thousands of tourists each year take advantage of GA to go flightseeing or fishing. Residents, too, depend on GA for transportation, access to medical care, and the delivery of everything from food to mail.
It should come as no surprise that this was a knowledgeable audience that asked pertinent questions and really understood the issues facing general aviation.
It’s been a great trip to Alaska and I look forward to returning to this beautiful state with its GA-friendly atmosphere. If I’m lucky I’ll find a way to bring my Husky north for some real backcountry flying.