While this is not a widely known fact, according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study, fertile soil and artisanal quality food throughout our state make it number one in terms of food production produced per acre. Delaware’s close proximity to customers in urban centers up and down the eastern seaboard make agriculture a significant part of the state’s economy, worth $8 billion a year. I can tell you this firsthand – my family’s company, Allen Chorman & Son Inc – helps to spread nutrients and other products for wheat, potato and sweet corn crops and help to control populations of mosquitoes for over 500 farms across our state. And as much as farming is not the first thing you may think about when you think of Delaware, an even lesser known fact is how much farms and businesses depend on aviation to do so.
The truth is that it is becoming more and more common for small businesses across our state and our country, like my own, to take advantage of the many benefits of general aviation. These aircraft help businesses and farms to survey and protect crops, transport tools and supplies, and reach customers in far-off and remote markets quickly and easily. In addition, the manufacturing of these aircraft, the repair and servicing of them, and the businesses that rely on and operate these planes, all account for millions of jobs and contribute to a manufacturing industry that is one of the few that contributes positively to the balance of U.S. trade. In total, general aviation in Delaware accounts for $188 million in economic activity each year.
And the importance of general aviation extends far beyond the farming and small business community. Public safety workers and medical organizations, such as AeroCare, operate helicopters and small aircraft on a daily basis to help in the event of an accident or medical emergency. In fact, last year, when a crew member on an oil tanker fell 20 feet onto the deck below, it was the Delaware Air Rescue Team that gave him the care and transportation he needed to survive. Bringing him back by boat would have been too risky, perhaps impossible. Similarly, recent severe weather threats have put our state’s helicopter rescue teams on alert, ready to rescue anyone in need.
While we in Delaware may understand the crucial importance of these aircraft and airports for everything ranging from disaster relief to medical care to business and farm use, many in our federal government still do not. Some in Congress and the Administration have even proposed new taxes and fees that would hurt small businesses like my own. Luckily, the benefits that general aviation provides have not been lost among the local leaders of our great state. Governor Markell recently named June, “General Aviation Appreciation Month.” His recognition of this important industry demonstrates his support for local law enforcement, farmers and small businesses like my own that depend on this vital industry. In addition, Mayor Donald Reese of New Castle has also joined with other Mayors across the country in support of general aviation. On behalf of our other small businesses and aircraft users throughout the state, I appreciate these leaders’ recognition of this important lifeline and vital industry for our state and nation.
Jeff Chorman is the “Son” in Allen Chorman & Son, Inc. and a member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America.