June 20, 2011

South Dakota, which is celebrating 100 years of aviation in the state this year, has proclaimed June, 2011 as “General Aviation Appreciation Month.” The declaration makes South Dakota the 28th state to issue such an official decree in the last year and a half.

“Aviation plays a critical role in the lives of South Dakota citizens, businesses, farms and ranches,” said South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard (R) in the proclamation. “Given [our] geography, a great many businesses and communities depend on general aviation [GA] aircraft of all types for mobility, access to medical treatment, economic opportunity, disaster relief and a wide range of critical resources.”

The governor added that business flying in South Dakota includes medical help for the state’s Indian reservations, aerial forest fire fighting in the Black Hills and economic development in communities.

According to the declaration, South Dakota is one of a handful of states with more aircraft (2,353) than active pilots (2,262), indicating the state’s dependence on general aviation.

“Governor Daugaard appreciates the importance of business flying in part because his state has large rural areas that, without general aviation, could find it difficult to connect with a global marketplace,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “Without the 74 public use airports and more than 100 private landing areas in the state, residents would not have access to many of the goods and services they now receive via business aviation.”

According to official statistics, aviation and aerospace businesses in the state employ 15,389 people, for a wage and benefit figure of $596 million annually. The total economic contribution of aviation in South Dakota is nearly two billion dollars, and plans are underway to construct a permanent home near Spearfish, South Dakota for the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame. The museum’s collection is presently housed at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City.

South Dakota has been transformed in the last few decades from an agricultural economy to one with more diversification, even though airline service in the state is limited. “Income from tourism has been increasing, with the Black Hills a primary tourist destination,” said NBAA northwest regional representative Kristi Ivey. “The financial services industry is now favoring South Dakota, and there’s a new underground research facility being built near Lead, which is far from the nearest commercial airport but only minutes from the well-equipped Black Hills-Clyde Ice airport.”

Like each of the other 27 states that have so far put their appreciation for business flying in official form, Governor Daugaard’s proclamation echoes the themes of the “No Plane No Gain” advocacy campaign jointly sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

In addition to the South Dakota proclamation, similar decrees have been issued in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. View a sampling of state proclamations at NBAA’s web site.

View the proclamation by South Dakota Governor Daugaard declaring June 2011 “General Aviation Appreciation Month”.