Sen. Pat Roberts honored for tireless support of GA

October 14, 2008

Phil Boyer with J.B. “Doc” Hartranft Award
winner Sen. Pat Roberts.

Steadfast, vocal, and passionate support for general aviation are hallmarks of Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-Kan.) service to his state, and AOPA recognized his efforts by presenting him with the prestigious J.B. “Doc” Hartranft Award.

AOPA President Phil Boyer made the presentation Oct. 14 in Roberts’ home state of Kansas. Boyer noted Roberts’ long history as a supporter of GA and his willingness to take unusual steps to protect it, as he did in the recent fight to prevent user fees when he actively tried to persuade colleagues on the Senate aviation subcommittee not to include user fees in their bill.

“Some of my colleagues considered it a bold move on my part to try to influence the markup of a committee that I didn’t serve on, but I knew the importance of this issue and I never shy away from being bold,” said Roberts. When the bill eventually made its way to the Finance Committee where Roberts serves, he countered arguments that GA only helps the rich by presenting facts and examples of hard-working small business men and women who depend upon, service, and manufacture these aircraft.

Because Congress did not pass an FAA funding package, the fight over user fees will begin anew next spring when current FAA funding extensions expire, and Roberts says he will again be at the forefront of efforts to protect GA interests.

“I’ve put the Senate on notice that this bill is a top priority for me, and I will not stop fighting to ensure that the general aviation community receives its fair shake,” Roberts told Boyer. “I’m ready to ride lead once again, but I’ll need you all right there with me riding shotgun.”

The Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Award is named for AOPA’s first employee and president of the association for 38 years. It is awarded annually to the federal, state, or local government official who has made the most significant contribution during the year on behalf of general aviation.