March 25, 2010

At the fourth annual Missouri Aviation Day, held March 24 in Jefferson City, Missouri state legislators mingled with over 100 individuals from the state’s general aviation (GA) community, including representatives with NBAA Member Companies. For the first time, many business aviation representatives joined members of the Missouri Pilots Association (MPA), Missouri Airport Managers Association and others, presenting a unified voice for GA.

“This builds a bridge between the GA community and our lawmakers,” said John Bales, airport manager at Spirit of St. Louis airport. “When crunch time comes, it’s much better to already have a relationship.”

“And that’s the secret,” said Carolyn Morris of MPA and logician for this year’s State Aviation Day, “getting to know your legislators early, because you want to be the person whose face flips into their head when there’s an aviation issue and they want the real scoop.”

Encouraging relationships between a state’s GA community and state legislators is high on NBAA’s priority list this year, as a number of state legislatures seek new funding to fill budget deficits in a sluggish economy. In Missouri, Senate Bill 1000 would pull $2.3 million from the state’s Aviation Trust Fund.

The 2010 Aviation Day centered around a luncheon in the state capitol rotunda, drawing an estimated 75 lawmakers and their aides to talk face-to-face with Missouri pilots, flight department managers, airport managers and aviation business owners, learning for themselves how general aviation supports citizens, companies and communities in the Show-Me State and across the country.

Aircraft manufacturer Embraer donated a Legacy 600 for the day to pick up 21 attendees from airports around the state and deliver them to the state capitol for the event.

“It was the best Aviation Day we’ve ever had,” said Bales.