Boyer, Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William Howell, and Virginia Aviation Director Randall Burdette
AOPA Manager of Regional Affairs Owen Sweeney staffs an information booth at
the Virginia Aviation Day in Richmond.
General aviation wins in Va. legislature
A bill that would have diverted airport funds to subsidize airlines has gone down to defeat in the Virginia House of Delegates. HB 1603 would have taken $5 million off the top of the Commonwealth Airport Fund to subsidize ticket prices for airlines serving six Virginia airports. AOPA opposed it, as did the Virginia Department of Aviation and several regional airports.
Meanwhile, a bill that would help protect airports has been introduced into the Virginia Senate. SB 1220 would require local governments to notify the airport sponsor of any change in land use within 3,000 feet of a public-use airport. That would help prevent incompatible development from springing up next to an airport and potentially bringing pressure to close the airport. That bill is sponsored by Sen. Charles Colgan, an AOPA member, a legend of Virginia aviation, and the founder of Colgan Airways.
AOPA is reaching outside the general aviation community to influence key state and local decision makers who can have a profound influence on pilots and GA airports. As part of that ongoing effort, AOPA President Phil Boyer Monday night gave the keynote address at the Virginia Aviation Day, held in the state library just steps away from the capitol in Richmond.
"Virginia has a strong tradition of supporting its GA airports, and that has paid dividends in economic benefits and promoting the commonwealth as a place to do business," Boyer told some of the state's most influential politicians. "From Dulles International to airports serving the smallest communities, Virginia has always supported a vigorous system of airport funding, because GA is essential to linking the remote areas of the state."
Boyer noted that Virginia's aviation department has been an innovative leader through the administrations of four governors, supporting 67 public-use airports, serving as a proving ground for the Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS), and funding a weather datalink service.
Virginia is also home to 11,000 AOPA members and 36 AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers. In fact, Virginia Director of Aviation Randall Burdette is a former Airport Support Network volunteer.
Boyer also discussed the value of general aviation with AOPA member and Virginia Aviation Board Chairman Roger Obendorf; the chairman of the Virginia House of Delegates Appropriations Committee, Vince Callahan; and with several candidates running for lieutenant governor, including longtime AOPA member Joe May, delegate from Leesburg.
February 1, 2005