A coalition of aviation industry groups sat down with Connecticut lawmakers Feb. 6 to build on a growing understanding within the capitol of the value of aviation.
Organized by Connecticut Business Aviation Group Chairman Paul A. Lange, the informational session with members of the state legislature’s Transportation Committee built upon a constructive dialogue that recently led state lawmakers to reconsider new taxes on general aviation.
Lange was joined by representatives of various local aviation businesses and industry groups. Among those participating were AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Craig Dotlo and Dean Saucier of the National Business Aviation Association. Together, the aviation experts detailed many contributions GA makes to the state, including job creation, economic development, and the philanthropic efforts of many GA pilots.
Connecticut has a rich aviation history. The state is home to Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and Pratt & Whitney, and in 2005 legislators named the F4U Corsair, a legendary World War II fighter designed and built entirely in the state, Connecticut’s official state aircraft. (Volunteers are working to restore a Corsair to flying condition in an effort to help educate a new generation about the state’s past contributions to aviation, and its promise to remain a key player in the future.)
Dotlo said the legislators were very receptive, and asked during the two-hour session what the state government can do to help GA thrive. One lawmaker suggested the tax debate of 2011 can serve as a case study of how tax policy can be formulated in the future to help aviation businesses succeed. Many lawmakers said they were not previously aware of the implications of GA taxes for small aviation businesses; more than one suggested that the aviation community also reach out to the education community, and spread the word about the many potential jobs and careers available to students.
Dotlo said AOPA will continue to work with coalition partners to raise awareness among lawmakers and the public of the many ways GA serves Connecticut and the country.