The fourth-floor balcony of the Hawaii State Capitol was the scene of an important event for general aviation on April 6 when the first Hawaii Aviation Day took place with the sponsorship of AOPA with help from state legislative leaders and the General Aviation Council of Hawaii (GACH).
More than 30 exhibitors welcomed pilots, aviation supporters, lawmakers, aviation officials, and local news media to the event to engage in a dialog and learn what general aviation means to the state of Hawaii. The event was made possible with the cooperation of House Majority Leader Scott Saiki (D-District 26); House Transportation Committee Chairman Henry Aquino (D-District 38); and Rob Moore, GACH director and president.
AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Jared Esselman met with FAA and state aviation officials, including Ross Higashi, deputy director of the state Airports Division.
“One of the major issues surfacing in those meetings was the number of runway incursions at Honolulu International Airport, which has the highest number of runway incursions in the nation, according to the FAA,” Esselman said. “AOPA will work with the FAA and local organizations like GACH, EAA, and the Civil Air Patrol to promote the Air Safety Institute’s runway safety course for pilots in an effort to help reduce the number of incursions.”
An important first step in organizing the Hawaii effort was for AOPA to contact the membership in Hawaii and invite pilots to attend a runway safety seminar sponsored by the FAA. The seminar drew a crowd of more than 120 pilots.
Members also had opportunities to interact with state aviation officials and lawmakers at the state aviation day event, and bring to their attention issues that have an adverse effect on the aviation community.
“The number one concern for our members and pilots was the issuance of criminal citations for parking and hangar infractions. Many members said these citations necessitate a court appearance,” Esselman said. He noted an egregious case involving an AOPA member who is active duty military and was deployed when a citation was issued for storing a piano in his hangar. After the member returned from deployment, he learned that a bench warrant had been issued for his arrest for a failure to appear in court.
To continue to bring the issues of general aviation pilots to state officials, Esselman asked AOPA members to email him or AOPA Western/Pacific Regional Manager Melissa McCaffrey with their accounts and experiences of flying in Hawaii.
AOPA awarded a posthumous presidential citation to Sen. Gilbert Kahele, who worked to support aviation in Hawaii until his death on Jan. 26. Kahele, a Democrat who represented Senate District 1, introduced Senate Bill 3072 to create a statewide airport authority, and SB 3073, to create an aviation program at the University of Hawaii in Hilo.