A recent Huffington Post article, Obama Hits Wealthy On The Runway With Air Traffic Control Tower Cuts, unfortunately completely clouded an issue that is extremely important to many of our country’s rural communities.
The truth is that most of the businesses that use these smaller airports are small- to mid-sized businesses that transport engineers and parts to minimize time lost when a machine breaks, reach far-off markets and customers, and reach multiple meeting locations in one day. These airports and aircraft are used in many specialized applications by a number of industries, such as applying agricultural protection products to crop, servicing power lines from the air or surveying pipelines for damage, for example. All told, the general aviation industry contributes $150 billion to the economy every year and supports more than 1.2 million jobs.
Perhaps instead of purely relying on the insights of political “operatives” who spend their days with the “super wealthy,” your authors should have talked to the Mayors of any one of thousands of communities around our country who rely upon these airports to support everything from law enforcement, emergency medical services, search and rescue, firefighting, port and border security, and natural disaster recovery.
Frankly, the report was downright insulting to the operators, business owners and pilots who donate their time and aircraft to transport organs, blood and patients to and from rural communities, the flight schools that use these airports to train our country’s next generation of pilots, and families whose livelihood depends on the jobs at these local airports.
Hopefully next time, the authors will reach out to someone who actually works or lives in a community affected by these cuts.