From celebration to legislation, aviation was in the spotlight at the state Capitol of New Mexico in Santa Fe for an Aviation Day event in which AOPA participated on Feb. 20.
The annual event, organized by the New Mexico Airport Managers Association and the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division, helps inform legislators and other policy makers about how general aviation supports jobs and promotes safety, tourism, revenue, and mobility for the state’s citizens, said Yasmina Platt, AOPA’s Central Southwest regional manager.
Platt attended the event on behalf of the association’s more than 2,400 members in New Mexico, and also met with legislators and staff on pending bills that could affect New Mexico’s taxation of aviation fuel and the funding of accounts that support state aviation infrastructure.
Displays set up for Aviation Day demonstrated the diverse nature of aviation in New Mexico. Organizations ranging from the New Mexico Aviation Aerospace Association and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta to military units, government agencies, national aviation associations, the Recreational Aviation Foundation, Air Care Alliance, Civil Air Patrol, and large aviation employers all were represented.
According to state aviation officials, New Mexico is home to 61 public-use, publicly owned aviation facilities, and hundreds of privately owned airstrips.
"The public-use airports have a tremendous impact on New Mexico’s economy. According to the 2009 New Mexico Airport System Plan, general aviation accounts for $3.1 billion in economic activity in New Mexico each year and provides over 48,000 jobs in the state," said a NMDOT news release.
"Airports play a vital role in the National and State Transportation System by providing jobs and much needed safety services including EMS and firefighting. The public-owned airports depend on state and federal funding to build and maintain safe runways, taxiways and other infrastructure improvements," added Bob Hudson, manager of Moriarty Airport, and the president of the New Mexico Airport Managers Association.
Honored on the House floor during the statewide recognition of aviation in a presentation by state Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-District 51) was glider designer George Applebay, creator of the prototype GA-111 Mescalero competition aircraft, and the Applebay Zuni and Zuni II gliders.