Election Year = GA Survival

It’s that time again when you actually have some leverage into what our representatives will do for, and to, general aviation. The cynics will say it doesn’t matter, and never has. The activists will say it’s do or die, and forever hold your peace if you don’t vote.

For many of us, the process seems so convoluted and far away. It doesn’t matter to me whether you favor the Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, or Liberals; if you don’t get it, you won’t get it. What will you do this time around?

This year there are a fair number of issues on the table concerning aviation, and specifically GA, that we should all pay attention to. Whether you believe it or not, the President and his party propose, and the congressional representatives in the House and Senate dispose of the issues and legislative requests from constituents and special interests. As they pass various bills, some dedicated and some via riders, it’s the funding they approve or disapprove that makes things better or worse for us who fly.

At the national level are the big impact issues that we have all read about: user fees, next generation ATC system design, ADS-B implementation, FAA controller compensation, rising fuel costs and availability, A&P mechanic availability, and student pilot starts.

AOPA, NBAA, GAMA, and EAA do a great job of keeping the spotlight on these issues. They provide the leverage, but nothing replaces the direct contact and opinion of an informed voter to a lawmaker up for election, with the news media following up on the response.

At the state level, there are aircraft sales tax issues, registration issues, support for improvements for existing airports, support for FAA AIP projects, the demise of local NDBs and VORs, justification for ILS installations and new GA airports, etc.

The State Transportation departments and Aviation Divisions are critical leadership organizations that the respective governors and state representatives influence, and depend on, for GA expertise. Call or write your state representatives that are up for election – tell them what you think, find out what they plan to support, then vote accordingly.

At the local county and city/town level are the airport zoning issues, support for the local FBOs and flight schools, noise mitigation effects on airport neighbors, and local support for airport businesses, expenses, and jobs generation and income, etc.

New hangar construction, airport maintenance (cutting the grass and painting the lines), power and lighting are usually contracted out locally, with local politicians influencing events. Energize your local newspapers, radio, and TV stations to these aviation issues.

You can be concerned at whatever level you are comfortable with, but you need to weigh in with your opinion to the candidates of your choice. In our system, the loudest voices drown out the reasonable voices, so you must make your voice heard. Nowadays, you can do it at meetings or via the Internet; attaching a check always helps improve their hearing.

Common Cause- If you don’t care what happens, then sit back and enjoy the political show. But you will lose your right to bitch when the outcome is not to your liking. In fact, it’s worse than that: we will all lose in the end, on the ramp, in the air, and in the wallet.

Numbers count. I’m an activist of sorts; that’s why I write and speak out on these issues. It’s also hard not to be an activist when on short final with a crosswind. You don’t have to sell your soul, but I do ask you to vote, one way or the other. Fly safe. Vote smart.

Mike Sullivan

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