I spend a lot of time talking to elected and appointed government officials who routinely make decisions affecting general aviation, but it’s rare that I can get a lot of them in one room at the same time. This morning was the exception. I had nothing to do with getting them there, but I am not beyond taking advantage of such an opportunity.
The event was the Texas State Aviation Conference. For 29 years, aviation leaders and decision makers from around the state have been getting together to talk about the issues affecting general aviation. And Texans take their aviation seriously. In a state that’s larger than France and which has major population centers in places like Dallas and Houston as well as vast areas of open ranchland, GA makes a lot of sense.
Quite a few states hold events like this and I wish even more would follow suit. Just as we at AOPA believe in collaborating with others across aviation, state and local aviation leaders can get some great ideas when they talk to each other about what matters to pilots, airport operators, aviation businesses, and other stakeholders.
Dave Fulton, director of TxDOT Aviation Division, gave an overview of the state of aviation in Texas, and I was impressed by the gains the state has made in terms of runway repairs, new terminals, new towers for congested urban areas, new AWOS, and more.
Then it was my turn to talk about AOPA’s work in Congress and the national issues that are affecting GA now and into the future, including avgas, NextGen, and ADS-B. And, of course, we talked about the importance of growing the pilot population and staying engaged and informed.
Pilots in Texas are fortunate their state aviation officials were sufficiently forward looking to launch this event 29 years ago and keep it going ever since. And I am lucky to be here, sharing the GA perspective with decision makers who know that general aviation matters.