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Former Rep. Ehlers was a voice for general aviationFormer Rep. Ehlers was a voice for general aviation

Former U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers, a nuclear physicist, pilot, and AOPA member who served nine terms in Congress and co-founded the House General Aviation Caucus, died Aug. 15 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was 83.

Rep. Vernon Ehlers. Photo by Christopher Rose.

Ehlers, a Republican, was known as a passionate educator and a strong advocate for the funding of science and environmental protection. He advised a previous holder of the House seat from Michigan, Gerald Ford, on science matters before Ford became president of the United States, according to this obituary.

As an advocate for general aviation, Ehlers sat on the House aviation subcommittee and spoke out on a range of issues, from security to user fees, AOPA noted in February 2010 after Ehlers announced his retirement from Congress.

Ehlers founded the GA Caucus in 2009 with fellow Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.). AOPA recognized the two men for their efforts to educate their colleagues about GA with the Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Award.

“Congressman Ehlers was a man of great character,” said AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Advocacy Jim Coon. “He was a leader and strong supporter of general aviation and was thoughtful in both his words and deeds. He was passionate in his advocacy for GA, adamantly opposed user fees, and founded the House General Aviation Caucus, which, today, has grown into one of the largest caucuses in Congress. It was an honor and privilege to know and work with him over the years.”

Topics: Pilots, Capitol Hill

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