September 21, 2012

In a state where general aviation (GA) aircraft are seemingly as common as pickup trucks in the Lower 48 — and just as useful — Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell recently acknowledged September as General Aviation Appreciation Month.

“[I] encourage Alaskans to celebrate GA as a unique resource and to appreciate the achievements of those who made aviation possible in the Last Frontier,” Parnell said in his proclamation, noting a total economic impact of $3.5 billion to the state from GA.

Review the Alaska “General Aviation Appreciation Month” Proclamation (3.49 MB PDF)

A special ceremony recognizing GA Month was held Sept. 17 in Anchorage. Speakers included Sen. Mark Begich (R-AK), and Alaska Department of Transportation Secretary Marc Luiken, as well as NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President and CEO Craig Fuller, and National Air Transportation Association President Tom Hendricks. More than 100 pilots, aviation enthusiasts and state and local officials also attended.

In his proclamation, the governor noted that 10 percent of the state’s jobs are related to business flying in the state. In the proclamation, he said,“[That’s]…an overall economic impact of $400 million, or $571 per capita, ranking Alaska’s aviation industry among those of the top 10 states most impacted economically by aviation.”

Parnell also noted that there are 10,833 aircraft registered in Alaska, 8,514 pilots and “numerous” repair stations and fixed-based operators serving the needs of Alaska’s pilots.

“Alaska is one of the most GA-intensive states in the Union,” said NBAA Northwest Regional Representative Kristi Ivey. “A proclamation designating all of September as GA Appreciation Month couldn’t be a better welcome.”

Parnell noted that 82 percent of Alaskan communities have no roads leading in or out of town, making all-season access by GA aircraft essential for commerce, transportation, emergency medical services and tourism. Major airline service is restricted to just two of the state’s airports, Anchorage and Fairbanks, while GA business flights are capable of landing at any of the hundreds of registered airports and seaplane bases scattered around the state.

“Of all states in the Union, Alaska is probably the best example of how GA serves isolated communities far from airline-served airports,” said Bolen. “As the No Plane No Gain campaign says, GA is a lifeline for America’s small and medium size cities and towns and a lifesaver for people in need.“

Alaska’s General Aviation Appreciation Month proclamation joins that of 43 other states that have officially recognized the value of GA, including business aviation. The governor also issued a proclamation highlighting the industry’s value in 2010.