He came to support aviation in the “air capital of the world,” but Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson surprised his hosts at the Wichita Aero Club (WAC) luncheon Feb. 10 by formalizing that support with a proclamation declaring this February “Aviation Appreciation Month.”
WAC Executive Director Dave Franson invited the governor to speak at the luncheon, and he suggested the proclamation in a conversation with Kansas Director of Aviation Ed Young before the event. But he said he did not expect the governor to include the proclamation in his speech. The recognition of the value of aviation to Kansas is more than just a ceremonial gesture, Franson said.
“The proclamation really is a tangible way of underscoring the importance and value of aviation to Kansas. It gives us something we can refer to when other politicians make ill-advised and uninformed comments that disparage the role of general and business aviation aircraft. In response, we can point to a proclamation that includes an impressive list of facts and figures that makes it not only a valuable ceremonial document but a powerful and informative resource, as well,” he said.
The Kansas proclamation stems from a similar proclamation in Georgia; Gov. Sonny Perdue declared October “Aviation Appreciation Month” at the urging of Atlanta Aero Club President Steve Champness. Champness shared the success with his counterpart in Kansas, who passed the idea on to Young. Parkinson presented the proclamation to Aero Club members during the luncheon; AOPA Vice President of Communications Andrew Broom was also present at the event.
“In our nation’s history, aviation has been a unique and transformative force that has become a key component of the American experience,” the proclamation reads. It goes on to recognize Kansas’ foundational role in aviation’s impact on American culture and history; the state has produced more than 250,000 aircraft and is the birthplace and base for many of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, it notes. It further recognizes aviation organizations such as WAC, AOPA, and others.
Proclamations such as Parkinson’s raise awareness of the value of aviation and build support for aviation-related issues. Just last month, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III proclaimed January “General Aviation Appreciation Month” in his state.