In a state where aviation plays a major role in the economy, Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson has taken particular exception to the USA Today article and editorial published in September that claimed federal Airport Improvement Program grants for rural airports was a waste of federal dollars.
“Kansas has 141 airports serving 7,602 pilots and 6,509 general aviation aircraft. Kansas is also home to 24 charter flight companies, 110 repair stations and 5 flight schools which provide 115 jobs. In addition, there are 91 fixed-based operators in the state. Furthermore, the total economic impact of general aviation in Kansas is $7.1 billion dollars,” the governor wrote to USA Today.
He also pointed out that more than 40,000 transportation manufacturing jobs reside in Sedgwick County, which includes Wichita. Wichita is home to Cessna Aircraft Company and Hawker Beechcraft Corporation, and FlightSafety International has training facilities in the city.
“The necessity of a vast aviation industry is evident—for rural communities, for the economy and for emergency providers,” Parkinson concluded.
Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer had written USA Today shortly after the September editorial, explaining how critical general aviation airports are to rural communities.