Aviation Infrastructure Visit and Much More

January 15, 2009 by Craig Fuller

AOPA President Craig Fuller speaks to the North Carolina Aerospace Executive Forum.

I’ve just returned from a day at the Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) where during a series of briefings and visits I became further energized about the wisdom of investing in our aviation infrastructure.

You immediately see on approach to KGSO the commitment to growth with the construction underway on a new 9,000 foot runway. During a tour of the airport from the ground, I learned about the HondaJet facility where soon over 350 employees will be working on the aircraft that first flew from this airport just over 5 years ago. And, there is the new FedEx center where nearly 800 people will work. It is due to become operational later this year. New roads have been built. Strong general aviation operations are visible all around the airport grounds. And, talk of expansion is part of every conversation. Indeed, it started early as we toured the Cessna Citation Service Center and viewed the new ramp and space for future expansion.

Cessna Citation Center
Cessna Citation Center
Touring GTCC
Touring GTCC

Paul Witt runs this center at KGSO and he proved to be an outstanding guide. When I asked about where he recruits his people for the service center, he described a remarkable relationship with the Guilford Technical Community College. It sounded too interesting to miss, so we dropped by for an impromptu visit.

Paul Witt from Cessna and I were joined by Bill Williams from North Carolina’s Division of Aviation for a tour of one of two campuses where the Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) provides courses to students.

As you can see below, we did run into students who will be working in the aviation industry soon.

It was a wonderful day in Greesboro, North Carolina and one which demonstated the strength of general aviation and the contribution it can make to a community.

Finally, there is someone who has been behind the careful and strategic growth of KGSO – The Piedmont Triad International Airport. Ted Johnson, the Executive Director of the Airport Authority provided us with a comprehensive and enthusiastic briefing….made even more remarkable by the fact that he has been guiding the development and growth of the airport for 41 years! I might add, he seems more enthusiastic about the future than ever.

Thanks to all who made our stop in Greensboro, North Carolina so memorable. You provided a wonderful example for all of us who are seeking to advance the notion that investments in our nation’s infrastructure must include investments in aviation.

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  • Pat Waters

    Craig, You have taken command of a wonderful organization and I already feel the swell of enthusiasm being added to our mission…Aviation. Your leadership and dedication, like Phils and Lois, will open new doors and opportunities for pilots throughout the WORLD to continue to enjoy the freedom of flight and the beauty of aviation both from recreational as well as business.

    I salute your first 18 days!!

    Pat Waters