July 6, 2011
Wyoming Governor Matthew H. Mead declared June 27 that general aviation (GA) plays a “critical role in the lives of our citizens,” and proclaimed June as GA Appreciation Month in the Equality State.
Business flying is particularly important in Wyoming, which has a population density of just 5.4 people per square mile, second only to Alaska. It is also one of only two states without Amtrak train service.
“We applaud Governor Mead for introducing this proclamation,” said National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen. “He can appreciate first-hand the importance of business flying to the citizens of Wyoming. Without the convenient community airports that dot the state, many people would be left without the goods and services delivered to small communities by business flying, not to mention emergency help.”
Officials in Wyoming have long recognized the importance of GA flying and community airports. In 2005 the state’s Aeronautics Commission established a financial assistance program for Wyoming airports to promote themselves and showcase their value. Up to $5,000 is available to each airport yearly for local activities such as an open house, a fly-in or an airshow.
“With long distances between towns and sparse airline service, we need GA airports,” said Amber Schlabs, Business and Marketing manager for the Wyoming Aeronautics Division. “Our top officials recognize that in order to have a healthy community, there must be a healthy airport.” She said the state legislature in 2004 created a unique “Legislative Air Service Enhancement Program” that has spent $21 million to date to promote and develop general aviation service in the state.
In his proclamation, Gov. Mead said that his state’s airports enable local businesses to become part of the national and global economy, and that GA visitors to Wyoming spend nearly $13 million a year in the local economies. “Wyoming airports contribute $375 million, or $665 per capita, to the state’s economy yearly,” he said, “sustaining 14,460 jobs in the state directly and indirectly.”
He noted that the state is home to 2,396 active pilots, 30 fixed-base operators, 15 charter flight companies, nine repair stations and two flight schools. The total economic activity attributed to GA is $1.4 million, or nearly five percent of the gross state product.
In addition, the state mounted a marketing campaign in 2007 called “Fly Wyoming,” encouraging consumer awareness of their local airports. The statewide campaign ran through 2008, but since then many airports have continued using the “Fly Wyoming” brand and logo for local promotion efforts.
Schlabs said that the state Aeronautics Commission works closely with economic development interests in the state. “When businesses ask about relocating to Wyoming, one of the first things they want to know is whether there’s an airport available nearby,” she said.
Governor Mead’s GA Appreciation Month proclamation makes Wyoming the 29th state to officially recognize the value of business flying since the beginning of 2010. The host of state declarations have echoed the themes in the “No Plane No Gain” advocacy campaign sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.