January 30, 2014
By Elizabeth A Tennyson
With hundreds of airport officials gathered in one place, the American Association of Airport Executives annual Issues Conference presented the ideal opportunity for AOPA to share the association’s work and the general aviation perspective with decision makers from around the country.
At the conference, which was held Jan. 7 through 10 in Kona, Hawaii, key AOPA staffers spoke with dozens of airport executives about the role, value, and needs of general aviation at airports large and small. Among the topics of discussion were NextGen, air traffic control modernization, FAA reauthorization, aviation security, and technology.
“It’s not often that we have the chance to talk to so many airport executives all in one place. Being able to discuss critical issues in an informal setting helps us keep the GA perspective in front of leaders whose decisions have a profound impact on the way we fly. It’s also a good opportunity to build the relationships and contacts we need to address issues as they arise at individual airports,” said AOPA Western Pacific Regional Manager John Pfeifer. “And because Hawaii is geographically isolated, the conference also offers a rare opportunity to meet with local aviation advocates and ASN volunteers in a state where GA is absolutely vital for transportation, tourism, and the economy as a whole.”
During their visit to the conference, AOPA’s delegation hosted two gatherings with AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteers and met with the General Aviation Council of Hawaii, a group of pilots, business owners, and others who represent the interests of GA in the islands.
“It was a great opportunity for us to spend time with some of GA’s best allies in Hawaii,” said Joey Colleran, AOPA Airport Support Network director. “The timing was especially important because of recent tensions between airport tenants and aviation officials in the state.”
Hawaiian public-use airports are unique in that they are all owned by the state. Recently, state transportation department personnel have been cracking down on non-aeronautical items in hangars, going so far as to issue criminal citations for anything found inside a hangar that is not part of an aircraft, including tools and even a golf cart used as a tow vehicle for planes.
AOPA has been working with pilots and seeking relief from the state’s transportation director. The association is now joining local pilots to support a state legislative bill that would remove the criminal nature of the citations.
Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications Elizabeth Tennyson joined AOPA in 1998, the same year she earned her private pilot certificate. She also holds an instrument rating and enjoys jumping out of planes almost as much as flying them.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Feb. 18 signed into law a bill that will add liability protection for land owners who allow aircraft operations at their privately owned airstrips and farms.
Montana awarded more than $700,000 in grants and loans to airports across the state Jan. 22, reinvesting general aviation fuel taxes into the aviation system.
America’s state legislative season has begun—speak up
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