Once again, it seems that many of our leaders inside the beltway are out of touch. Recently, some in Washington, D.C., proposed new user fees on businesses that use their own personal aircraft. That may not have much of an impact on K Street, but it sure does on Main Street.
Take our business, Plains Ag, LLC, which sells and services farm equipment and parts.
When equipment breaks down somewhere in the Upper Midwest, I use my airplane to get to locations easily, and move parts and people between store locations for training and for sales. Increased taxes and bureaucracy hurt our business and make it almost impossible to serve my customers through the use of an aircraft.
I am not alone. Other businesses across the country, especially in rural areas, use general aviation to maximize their time and productivity. General aviation also plays a vital role in agriculture — and the general aviation manufacturing industry represents a $150 billion-a-year industry, supporting over 1.2 million American jobs and more than $131 million in economic activity each year right here in North Dakota.
Emergency medical responders, law enforcement, firefighters, search-and-rescue teams, border patrols, natural disaster relief efforts and countless nonprofit organizations use general aviation to protect and improve lives.
Fortunately, our leaders here in North Dakota recognize the importance of general aviation. Gov. Jack Dalrymple recently declared March to be “Aviation Month,” and North Dakota’s entire congressional delegation participated in the General Aviation Caucus.
With this type of leadership, hopefully, we can urge others to help protect this lifeline to communities around the country.
(The writer is the manager of Northern Plains Equipment, a board member of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America.)