South Dakota rallies GA

September 1, 2011 by Craig Fuller

For a rural state like South Dakota, general aviation means successful farming, business growth, and access to the wider world. Today, Senator John Thune and Governor Dennis Daugaard took time out to recognize the value of general aviation in their home state—and I was pleased to be a part of this exciting Rally GA event.

From left to right: Ed Bolen, NBAA; Jim Cuhady, International Council of Air Shows; Craig Fuller, AOPA; Gov. Dennis Daugaard; Jim Peitz, Mustang Aviation; Sen. John Thune; Pete Bunce, GAMA; Rod Hightower, EAA; and Jim Coyne, NATA.

GA has played an important role in the South Dakota economy for a century—a milestone Governor Daugaard recognized earlier this year when he proclaimed June to be “General Aviation Appreciation Month” in his state. And now, more than ever, GA is an important stimulus in South Dakota.

I was lucky to have the chance to speak to South Dakota pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and voters at large at this Rally GA event. Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, served as emcee and Jim Peitz, president of Mustang Aviation, served as our gracious host. In addition to the governor and senator we were joined by Rod Hightower of EAA and Jim Coyne of NATA, Ed Bolen of NBAA and John Cuhady of the International Council of Air Shows.

Events like these are so important because they bring together elected leaders and voters to talk about what general aviation means to real people—whether they fly or not. So often, the economic impact of general aviation is invisible to those outside of the flying community. I’m betting that before today many of the people in the audience had no idea that Mustang Aviation in Pierre conducts 24,000 operations every year, or that those operations have a direct and indirect economic impact worth $58 million to the community.

Talking to pilots at today's Rally GA event.

Fortunately for the residents of South Dakota, their representatives understand just how important GA is to their state. I think Gov. Daugaard put it best today when he said, “Our economy and our safety would be compromised if not for general aviation.”

Hear, Hear!

  • John Markey

    Having just flown a round trip across South Dakota, one big hurdle is getting gas at the small county airports. On a very positive note, a “thank you” and shout-out to the folks in Buffalo, SD, at 9D2, and the wonderful young manager there who helped me fuel up the plane and find lunch off field. Courtesy and friendliness may well be the best thing South Dakotans offer.

  • Craig Parker

    I don’t think I’m wrong on this, but isn’t the flag on the wall behind the group backwards? I’m an Airforce veteran and we were taught 30yrs ago that the blue field is always on the upper left side when hanging the flag. Any other way is to be considered a sign of defeat or just plain disrespect.