September 12, 2012

Despite deep divides between Democrats and Republicans, governors in both parties recently reaffirmed the value of aviation. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, both recently recognized the value of aviation to their states by proclaiming September as aviation month – becoming the 43rd and 44th states respectively to recognize the importance of all general aviation (GA), including business aviation.

“Michigan is home to 235 public-use airports, 70 licensed flight schools, 225 licensed aircraft dealers, 6,800 registered aircraft and 16,000 licensed pilots,” Snyder said in his declaration of September as “Michigan Aviation Month.” Michigan ranks ninth among all 50 U.S. states in the number of airports per land area, with one public-use airport for every 249 square miles. Only 19 of those airports are classified by the FAA as eligible to receive any scheduled airline service.

Review the Michigan proclamation (460KB, PDF)

Just over two months ago, Snyder demonstrated his understanding of the industry’s importance by signing HB 4025, which dedicates 4 percent of the 6 percent tax on aviation fuel for airport maintenance, repair and construction.

According to NBAA Midwest Regional Representative Bob Quinn, the law authorizes up to $10 million, which can be used to leverage as much as $90 million of federal funds for airport projects.

In his proclamation, the governor also noted the importance of the Michigan Air Tour, this year scheduled for Sept. 21-23. The air tour is an annual event that celebrates Michigan aviation with a group of pilots flying GA aircraft around the state, exploring different Michigan airports and experiencing first-hand the economic importance of GA to the state and communities.

The first state Air Tour was in 1929.

Even before the first Air Tour, Michigan aviation was strongly linked to Henry Ford. Better known for automobile production, Ford’s company made Liberty aircraft engines for World War I aircraft, followed in 1926 by the groundbreaking Ford Tri-Motor commercial transport.

In Connecticut, Malloy said in his proclamation of “Aviation Appreciation Month” that, “This month is an opportunity for aircraft owners, pilots, aviation enthusiasts and others to share an appreciation for the freedom of flight, the camaraderie of the aviation community, as well as the past and future of aviation in Connecticut.”

Review the Connecticut proclamation (386KB, PDF)

GA is particularly important in Connecticut because, of the state’s 21 airports, only the ones in Windsor Locks and New Haven are classified as commercial service (airline) airports. The rest are GA only, used by businesses to quickly reach customers, for medical evacuation and by recreational pilots.

Connecticut has at least 88 aerospace-related employers, according to the Manta business directory, making aviation one of the most vibrant industries in the state. In his proclamation, Governor Malloy confirmed the economic benefit of aviation and aerospace businesses in the state.

“Aviation is inextricably linked to economic development in the State of Connecticut, and we support the many workers employed here in the aviation industry,” the governor said. “We celebrate aviation and the many ways in which it enriches our lives.”

Connecticut also was home to Igor Sikorsky, who developed the first viable American helicopter in 1939, the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300. A few years later Sikorsky produced the Model R-4, which was the world’s first mass-produced helicopter. Sikorsky also developed the famous Pan American Airways flying boats.

In addition to Michigan and Connecticut, the list of states that have officially recognized GA’s value includes: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.