formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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May 12, 2009 The American Association of Airport Executives and General Aviation

The Liberty Gazette
May 12, 2009

The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely

It’s interesting being involved in an industry that seems to have some element of being a shadow. What I mean by that is that with a U.S. population of 300 million, of which only about 598,000 are U.S. licensed pilots (fewer than 200,000 of those are airline pilots), its easy to see why millions of people who don’t fly wouldn’t necessarily give much thought to what life would be like if there was no aviation, if there were no community airports. Kind of like that little airport out in the boonies; if you don’t fly, how often do you think of it? And when you do, do you think of its vast potential to be an economic generator, to make money and create jobs and bring more business, education, and tax dollars to South Liberty County?

A couple of weeks ago the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) held its annual conference, this year it was in Addison, near Dallas. The aviation industry is full of people with enthusiasm and a passion for how aviation can benefit the people of this country. That’s highly valued in many cities. We often reference AOPA, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, because this aviation group has the largest aviator membership and has a strong voice in Washington. AOPA has launched a General Aviation awareness campaign, “GA Serves America” (, because know it or not, airports are largely for people who don’t fly.

AOPA was among the participants at the AAAE conference in Addison and spoke about GA security, protecting airports, and the “GA Serves America” initiative. Bill Dunn, AOPA’s VP of local airport advocacy, moderated a panel called “What does it take to keep an airport operational?” The Association’s airport advocacy team also used the time to check in on area airports and connect with Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteers. Their commitment to airport development was evidenced by a trip to Sherman Municipal, an airport where efforts to promote GA’s value to the community have paid off. Sherman Municipal Airport is self-sustaining; not a drain to taxpayers because of that city’s understanding of the contribution General Aviation makes, an understanding which gives the city a desire to commit to the health of its community and airport.

Mike: Tens of millions of Americans depend on General Aviation as an economic lifeline. The “GA Serves America” website speaks of this value: “From pilots to business leaders, and from community leaders to folks who use GA to save lives and keep us safe, we’re reaching out to gather stories about the important role GA plays in our economy and our communities. We’re proud to be advocating on behalf of 1.2 million jobs and $150 billion in economic activity.” Founded in May, 1939, and often called “The Voice of General Aviation,” AOPA represents GA’s interests with the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, Congress, and with other aviation organizations on behalf of its members, and ultimately on behalf of people who don’t fly, actively pursuing better public understanding of General Aviation and its benefits to the nation.

Speaking of benefiting communities, there’s more good news about Ranger, Texas. It’s the place to be on May 23, and we’ll fill you in next week. Till then, blue skies.

Mike and Linda can be reached at

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