Lawmakers and members of Hawaii’s aviation community have taken the first step toward building a closer working relationship with the launch of the Hawaii Aviation Caucus.
The group held its first meeting Feb. 21, with 12 lawmakers and about 25 members of the aviation community attending. The session was chaired by Senator Kaiali’i Kahele (D-District 1) and Rep. Angus McKelvey (D-District 10). A second meeting is planned for April.
“The caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral group that will foster and promote the relationship with aviation businesses, airport management, and recreational pilot groups to create a better understanding of aviation issues and opportunities,” said Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA Western Pacific regional manager, who participated in the caucus session along with Jared Esselman, AOPA director of state government affairs.
McCaffrey added that the two legislative chairmen “did a great job of steering the conversation in a positive direction, bringing a sense of community and a feeling of bridging the gap between the pilot community and legislators.”
Hawaii has a robust aviation history that dates back to a first flight in 1910. Over the years, the state has come to play a role as the “Crossroads of the Pacific” and has participated in the development of commercial and military air travel, McCaffrey said.
With 15 public-use airports, the aviation sector in Hawaii supports more than 4,100 jobs and $742 million in economic output, and is a critical aviation link between the United States, Asia, and Australia.
McCaffrey encouraged AOPA members in Hawaii to support the new caucus by attending its future meetings, and by reaching out to their individual representatives and senators to inform them about the opportunity to join the new legislative group.
“As a critical industry in the islands, the importance of officials having a better understanding of general aviation and its economic impact cannot be overemphasized,” McCaffrey said.