A few years back a critic of mine said that I “fly around the country acting like I am the savior of general aviation.” As I thought about this criticism, I had to admit there is some truth to the statement. I so strongly believe in promoting general aviation, I developed a presentation called PGA2: Promote General Aviation, Protect G.A. Airports. I have presented PGA2 at AirVenture, Women in Aviation, Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association and to many pilot groups throughout California. I firmly believe that unless I all do something, the face of general aviation in the United States could change for the worse. So, it looks like my critic is right. This begs the question, why aren’t there more folks out there doing the same?
A few years ago, I accepted a position on the board of the California Pilots Association [CalPilots]. Founded in 1949, CalPilots is a statewide non-profit volunteer organization committed to the support of our state General Aviation airports and flight privileges. Protecting airports and promoting G.A. is right in line with the work I have been doing with the two grass-roots groups I founded: the Mooney Ambassadors [www.MooneyAmbassadors.com], and the Friends of Oceano Airport [www.FriendsofOceanoAirport.com]. So accepting the two-year vice presidency of Region 3 was a no-brainer.
What can the average lover of aviation do to help inspire the love of flight and protect their home drome? By engaging! Get involved at your airport. Think about aviation events in your area. Attend as many as you can, or better yet, volunteer to help. No events at your home airport? Start one.
Stay involved. Know your airport board and the political figures who oversees your airport. Keep abreast of issues that could affect your airport and attend meetings about such. Educate yourself as to what general aviation truly is. Write an editorial on how general aviation positively affects your community. Get to know your media folks and invite them to the airport for a tour. Take them for an airplane ride. They like to have fun too. Tell them general aviation fights forest fires, provides emergency ambulance and rescue services. Let them know about all volunteer Angel Flight, which provides medical transportation to those in need. Inform them the package they recently received might have been delivered by a General Aviation FedEx or UPS feeder airplane.
Aviation lovers ask us why should they become a member of state or local groups when they already belong to AOPA, EAA, NBAA, or other national aviation groups. The short answer is that state aviation issues are increasing and national aviation organizations can no longer address them all, or protect all of our airports.
We have to do more to protect general aviation airports. I believe in a “Three Tiered Aviation Defense Strategy” that aviation enthusiasts should belong to local, statewide, and national aviation organizations. Further, all three tiers must work together, which is beginning to happen. It is vital that all, aviators and enthusiasts, get involved. Each of us can do something to help, no matter how small.
Am I the savior of G.A.? No, we all must band together against apathy. We need to go from complaint to mandate. Promoting general aviation protects G.A. airports. You can do something today.