A Vermont House resolution recognizing the importance of general aviation puts one more arrow in the quiver of those fighting to protect airports and GA.
Vermont Rep. Janice Peaslee earned her private pilot certificate in November ( See “Politicians & Planes”) and has shared her love of flying with many colleagues in the state legislature. This month, she spearheaded an effort to pass a resolution recognizing the contributions of GA and urging federal lawmakers to do the same--a move she hopes will increase understanding of GA and help protect airports.
“People just don’t understand what it’s all about,” said Peaslee, who sponsored the resolution with her fellow members of the House Transportation Committee. She said she introduced the resolution, which passed the House May 7, to help correct “the misunderstanding of what general aviation is and the value of airports, whether they’re long or short or paved or grass strips.”
The resolution recognizes contributions from GA such as “angel flights, business commuter services, environmental protection, firefighting, law enforcement, search and rescue, surveying wildlife, and long distance delivery services such as FedEx and UPS,” and the industry’s $150 billion annual contribution to the American economy. It also recognizes the challenges that face GA, including insufficient funding of the FAA, onerous security regulations, and encroachment.
Peaslee had been facing one of those challenges during the latest legislative session as she fought to protect Island Pond Airport from closure after a developer wanted to use the land for a wood pellet operation. The legislature eventually decided to sell the airport because of the jobs the operation could create for the area, but instead of resigning herself to the discouraging outcome, Peaslee turned her energy toward guarding against a similar outcome in the future.
The resolution urges Congress and the president to recognize the vital role of GA and to abstain from adopting legislation and policies that affect the industry’s ability to continue to function effectively; copies of the resolution went to federal and state officials, as well as members of the GA industry, including AOPA President Craig Fuller.
When a legislative body comes together to recognize the importance of and express support for GA, it strengthens the industry’s case for the next challenge that comes along. Peaslee said the House resolution is an asset for protecting GA and the benefits airports provide.
“If you lose [an airport], chances are you’re not going to put one somewhere else, because money is tight,” she said. “… If you already have one, don’t lose it.”