General Aviation: A Lifeline for Small Communities
August 10, 2012
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  • By Wendy Rudder

    Every day, general aviation, or small aircraft, shuttle patients to trauma centers and specialized medical care facilities in order to quickly provide patients with the care they require. A couple years ago, my father ended up being one of those patients.  He had broken his hip, and because of the severity of his injury, needed surgery as soon as possible.  With ambulances unavailable due to the remoteness of the area, a plane was able to take him to the nearest hospital that could help him – over two hours away by car. There is no telling what would have happened if we did not have a plane to get him to surgery in time.

    Across Nevada, these type of aircraft and the airports they depend on not only support a host of important medical services, but also public safety, law enforcement operations, disaster relief and fire fighting.  Due to a particularly dry winter, fire fighters across our region have already had to battle multiple serious blazes, some which have already destroyed homes right here in Nevada.  In addition to the expertise and heroism of these brave fire fighters who put their lives on the line to help fight wildfires, aircraft are helpful in dispersing water and fire retardants. These fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters fly out of airports such as Lincoln County Airport based inPanaca, and play a significant role in containing and fighting wild fires.

    However, these aircraft are also an important tool for businesses of all sizes from Las Vegas to Elko. General aviation allows our businesses to grow, meet with multiple customers in one day, travel where there is little or no access to commercial flights, reach far-off plants, and deliver tools and demonstration equipment.  These aircraft not only support tourism to Las Vegas, but also to more remote towns around our state to hunt, fish, and enjoy the wildlife our state offers.  And, general aviation accounts for $150 billion in economic activity across the country each year, supporting 1.2 million jobs, including over $720 million in economic activity annually right here in Nevada.

    In spite of all of these benefits, unfortunately, many lawmakers and the general public are still not aware of the many benefits of this form of transportation.  For example, the President’s budget proposal released earlier this year includes a user fee tax which would be extremely detrimental to businesses and organizations around our state that rely on general aviation.  This toll-like tax would put a fee on each flight, hurting small and medium-size businesses just as they are beginning to recover from the recession, and would require a whole new bureaucracy in the FAA to administer these new fees and taxes.

For all of us in Nevada, air transportation supports medical, fire fighting, law enforcement and commerce for local communities and economies across our state.  I hope that ourleaders and lawmakers will recognize and support the invaluable role that these airports and aircraft have for our state and our country.


    Wendy Rudder, President

    Nevada Airports Association

    Date: August 3, 2012