House GA Caucus founders honored

November 4, 2009

award winners Rep. Allen Boyd (left) and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (right)

AOPA on Nov. 6 honored Reps. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) and Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), founders of the House General Aviation Caucus, with the 2009 Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Award.

The award honors the elected official or officials who have done the most in the past year to support general aviation. Boyd and Ehlers are longtime supporters of GA and created the caucus to share information with fellow members of Congress about the importance of GA to the U.S. economy and transportation system, and to garner support when GA legislation is being considered.

“Misunderstandings about general aviation by America’s decision makers and opinion leaders are at the root of many of the challenges facing general aviation,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “Having better-informed legislators is good for GA because they will understand the full implications of the laws they pass.”

Under the combined leadership of Boyd and Ehlers, the General Aviation Caucus has grown to more than 70 members of Congress, representing all parts of the United States. The two men said they were honored to receive the award, named after AOPA’s first president.

“The role that general aviation plays in creating jobs and bolstering local economies is invaluable to communities across the country, and that’s why the work of the General Aviation Caucus in Congress is so important,” Boyd said. “As a pilot, I understand the benefits of general aviation, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress, in particular my friend Congressman Ehlers, to ensure that general aviation remains strong and has a voice in the House of Representatives.”

Ehlers said the caucus’s mission to inform members of Congress about the benefits and importance of GA is far from over and called on pilots to help spread the word.

“I will continue to educate my colleagues about how general aviation boosts local economies, serves individuals and organizations which are underserved by large airlines, and provides critical support to emergency responders,” he said. “However, we definitely need your help. Get to know your member of Congress, and tell them your GA story. I sincerely thank my friends at AOPA for this award, and rest assured that I will continue to advocate on Capitol Hill for them and all of aviation in its many forms.”

Boyd is a pilot and seven-term member of Congress. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he is a strong pro-GA voice against FAA user fees. Both he and Ehlers are vocal proponents of commonsense approaches to aviation security, co-sponsoring an amendment to the Transportation Security Administration’s funding bill requiring the agency to work with GA to address pilots’ concerns about proposed rules and regulations.

Ehlers is a nine-term Member of Congress and a longtime member of AOPA. He serves on the aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and has been a tireless advocate of general aviation since arriving in Washington in 1993.