In today’s competitive marketplace, general aviation provides companies with a significant advantage. As the owner of six Johnstone Supply locations across Pennsylvania and Maryland, I have seen firsthand how a plane can assist in a company’s day-to-day operations. It allows my staff and me to reach our branches quickly. We can use the airplane to transport our employees, customers and products, and also have multiple meetings in different locations in one day.
Johnstone Supply is a wholesale distributor in the HVAC industry, encompassing heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration products. Professionals in the HVAC industry operate on tight schedules, whether they are making a repair or working on a new installation, and the plane allows us to reach our clients on short notice. Flying gets us there first, and it has been a critical tool for building business relationships over the years. The airplane is a differentiator in business; it not only maximizes time, it sets us apart from the competition.
In addition to the benefits of general aviation for businesses, helicopters and other general aviation aircraft are essential for the transport of medical supplies and emergency personnel. Medevac operations and disaster relief services depend heavily on general aviation to help save lives. Law enforcement and port security authorities use general aviation to keep us safe. And general aviation and its pilots are active in the charitable community. A good example of this is Angel Flight East. This organization, located in Blue Bell,, uses donated personal aircraft to provide free transportation to patients who need cancer treatments, organ transplants and other forms of medical care.
Unfortunately, in spite of all these benefits, many still don’t understand how important a resource these aircraft are to communities large and small across the U.S. For example, the president’s budget proposal from earlier this year included a $100 per flight tax that would have a significant negative impact on general aviation and the many people that utilize and depend on it every day. And, because of the manner in which the fee was proposed, a very strong case could be made that it would affect safety.
Fortunately, many of our local elected officials realize the immense value of general aviation across the United States. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett declared September to be General Aviation Appreciation Month.
I hope we can build on this and work together to raise awareness about the benefits of general aviation to our communities in Pennsylvania and throughout the country.
Tom Wallace, of Allentown, is the owner of six Johnstone Supply branches in Pennsylvania and Maryland and a member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America.