AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker made his way through Capitol Hill presenting the Freedom to Fly award to deserving members of Congress. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Sen Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) were recognized for their support of general aviation.
The Freedom to Fly Award is presented to leaders who have advocated on behalf of GA on issues including supporting rural airports and communities, and rejecting any legislation to privatize the air traffic control system and turn it over to special interests.
“All but our largest airports nationwide stand to be hurt by this proposal,” he said. With more than 40,000 Kansans having jobs operating, manufacturing, and servicing aircraft, Moran has been a very vocal opponent against ATC privatization.
Another Kansan, Roberts, also has spoken out against plans to hand over our air traffic system to the airlines, saying, “Any legislation that moves forward will need to ensure a level playing field between general aviation and commercial aviation.”
A longtime supporter of GA and rural airports in his home state of Mississippi, Wicker thanked AOPA for the recognition saying, “General aviation provides much-needed support for essential air services in our rural communities. I will continue to be an advocate for Mississippi’s rural airports while working to improve the aviation experiences of all Americans.”
Heller tweeted his appreciation for the award saying, “Honored to be presented with the Freedom to Fly Award by @AOPA. #Nevada’s—and our nation’s—general aviation community is critical to tourism and our local economies, and I’ll continue to support our general aviation airports and pilots.”