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.
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.
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.”