Hartford pilots look back at tax battle, forward to Summit

June 9, 2011

Surrounded by warbirds and other aircraft, Connecticut pilots got an inside look at local advocacy and the upcoming AOPA Aviation Summit at a pilot town hall meeting June 2.

Vintage aircraft and rerfreshmentsAOPA President Craig Fuller addressed the crowd of about 130 at the New England Air Museum about recent efforts to stop two potentially damaging budget proposals in Connecticut and the association’s September event in Hartford. Attendees at the Cirrus-sponsored event got a chance to check out the exhibits after hours, from a J-3 Cub to a range of heavy-duty Sikorsky creations.

The state’s aviation industry faced a grave threat this year when two budget proposals were introduced that would have imposed a hefty personal property tax on aircraft and eliminated a sales tax exemption on labor performed for aircraft maintenance. But after a concerted effort from AOPA and its partners in the aviation community and state legislature, the proposals were left out of the final budget package. Fuller explained the importance of pilots getting involved at the local level to protect their freedom to fly.

“Advocacy’s been at the heart of what we do, and really at the heart of any advocacy effort is local involvement,” Fuller said. “Tip O'Neill said all politics is local, and when it comes to Connecticut that is certainly the case.”

He acknowledged the efforts of pilots, the aviation community, and Connecticut lawmakers—particularly state Rep. Tim Larson, state Sen. L. Scott Frantz, and AOPA member and state Sen. Andrew M. Maynard—in speaking out against the costly proposals.

Now that aircraft owners are no longer faced with the prospect of shelling out 2 percent of the first 70 percent of the assessed value their aircraft every year, they can turn their attention to this year’s AOPA Aviation Summit, taking place in Hartford Sept. 22 through 24.

Summit’s closing night event will be at the New England Air Museum amidst the aircraft that pilots got to check out at the June 2 town hall meeting. Scott E. Ashton, president of the museum’s board of directors, welcomed AOPA to the site and expressed excitement for the association’s big event in September. Cirrus Aircraft Vice President of Marketing Todd Simmons also spoke during the meeting, discussing the anniversary edition of the company’s SR22.

AOPA President Craig Fuller addressed over 130 pilots in Hartford.