Different groups, same goals

July 15, 2009 by Craig Fuller


Rep. Sam Graves answers questions at a town hall gathering in his hangar.

Rep. Sam Graves answers questions at a town hall gathering in his hangar.

This week finds me on the road, or rather in the sky, again to spread the General Aviation Serves America message to an ever widening audience.


But last week I enjoyed seeing just how diverse the spectrum of general aviation is when I spoke at two events in two very different places. The first group I addressed was the Flying Physicians Association at their annual convention held in Washington, D.C. This association is made up of doctors who also fly, and much of the gathering was devoted to discussions of various medical issues and technologies as they relate to aviation.


It’s hard to imagine a group of individuals who are more focused or intense about their passions than these highly trained professionals. And many are combining their medical training with their love for flying by working as aviation medical examiners, generally in addition to their primary field of practice.


They asked some tough questions and showed sincere interest in how they can play a role in promoting the General Aviation Serves America campaign to educate policy makers and opinion leaders about the value of GA.


The very next day, I traveled to Tarkio, Mo., to participate in a completely different sort of event—a great grassroots fly-in and airshow held at a grass airfield in this rural community. The event is put together by Congressman Sam Graves, a Tarkio native, pilot, and friend to general aviation in the House of Representatives.


Here the non-flying community joined pilots who fly in from around the region to be part of a wonderful day spent among aircraft, watching aerobatics, and seeing classic aircraft of all types. Families come out to see the show and kids look in wonder at the airplanes and dream of flying. It’s the sort of event that might have taken place 50 years ago, and it’s just as relevant and refreshing today.


Here too, to this diverse audience, I had the chance to speak about issues affecting general aviation and the ways we are addressing them through the General Aviation Serves America Campaign.


This audience, too, was intensely interested in what’s going on in GA and all that general aviation does to serve America.


And it was then that I realized just how much general aviation really does bring people together, ideologically as well as literally. These two completely different audiences in wildly differing locations shared a powerful interest in preserving general aviation. And while these groups use GA differently in many ways, both could clearly see the value in protecting it for themselves, for their communities, and for future generations.