THREE FORKS – Governor Steve Bullock names August ‘General Aviation Month’ here in Montana.
Often times when you think of an airport, you think of a commercial airport servicing the large airlines. But what people don’t think about are the smaller general aviation airports.
Airport manager at the Three Forks Airport, David Boyd said, “When we use the term general aviation, we basically mean anything outside of the airlines.”
The Three Forks Airport houses close to 40 aircrafts and the number seems to increase each year, but what are these smaller airports used for?
“There is a lot of different benefits here, we have crop dusters that operate out of the Three Forks Airport for the majority of the spring for farmers in the Gallatin Valley,” said Boyd.
According to the Alliance for Aviation Across America, general aviation accounts for more than $117 million dollars of economic activity in Montana.
Boyd said, “For here in the local economy we have businesses that rely on it, that bring clients in using smaller aircraft since our nearest commercial airport is 20 miles away.”
One challenge these airports face are the financial burdens of flying.
“One of the real challenges in aviation for everybody is the expense of flying and anytime something comes along that increases that expense, it creates problems for us.”
Boyd is referring to the user fee operators have to pay per flight.
“Unfortunately we have people in Washington that think we need to pay more and that is where this user fee issue has been raising its ugly head time and time again to tack on a $100 fee every time we use air traffic control services,” said Boyd.
The $100 fee would be an unavoidable one if the bill proposed by the Obama Administration is passed by congress, but Boyd is extremely excited about the governor’s recognition of the importance general aviation plays in Montana’s economy.
“Well I think it is great, I appreciate him doing that it is nice to see there is recognition of the importance of general aviation and what it does for not just our economy here in Three Forks in Montana as a whole.”
In addition to the large economic impact, the Alliance for Aviation Across America says general aviation supports more than a thousand jobs statewide.