A smile, a handshake, a brief but friendly conversation may seem trivial on the surface, but such moments can build into great things. With that in mind, AOPA Northwest Mountain Regional Manager David Ulane headed to Olympia, Wash., on July 1 to join representatives of partner aviation organizations in thanking Gov. Jay Inslee for recognizing the value of aviation—including general aviation—to his state.
The ceremony was brief, and the photo opportunity produced nothing obviously remarkable—a group of people standing and smiling, one holding an official plaque. But there is a subtext there that reflects the mission Ulane has been pursuing since his tenure as an AOPA regional manager began: making personal connections, not just with state officials but with state pilot groups, airport associations, and trade groups across the aviation community.
“Everybody in that picture worked very well together in this last legislative session on a number of different issues,” Ulane said.
(Also joining Inslee at the ceremony: state Aviation Director Tristan Atkins, Washington Pilots Association President Les Smith, Washington Airport Management Association President Kandace Harvey (also the owner of Harvey Field), Renton Municipal Airport Manager Ryan Zulauf, Washington Community Airports Association President David Ketchum, and Devin Osting of the Alliance for Aviation Across America.)
Ulane, with his very presence as well as those personal conversations, sent a message from AOPA: “We’re here, we’re engaged, we’re paying attention to what’s going on, and we’re part of the state team.”
Collaboration among aviation groups and other stakeholders has helped advance important work on behalf of the GA community, including an ongoing effort that has identified funding shortfalls and needed improvements to the state’s public airports. An effort, supported by the state government, aims to find ways to close the funding gaps and maximize the potential of an important public resource: 134 airports that support jobs, enhance public safety, and encourage economic development. A 2012 state study found that aviation supports 248,500 jobs paying $15.3 billion in wages while generating $50.9 billion in economic activity annually. Boeing accounts for a good portion of that, but Ulane said he welcomed a chance to remind the governor that smaller airplanes, along with their owners and pilots, are deserving of the state’s support and attention, too.