I grew up inspired by flight—my father was a B- 17 pilot in World War II– but flying was not something I ever thought I’d use as an amazingly incredible tool for my business. However, since learning to fly 35 years ago, it has become not only a passion, but a tool upon which I rely to make my work both infinitely more feasible and equally more productive.
As an attorney in Orlando with clients across the state, I spend an incredible amount of time travelling to take depositions and meet with clients as far west as Pensacola and as far south as Miami. Flying turns what would be a five-hour drive into an hourlong flight, or a thirteen-hour drive into a flight that is just a little more than two hours. Even more amazing is the fact that I can fly directly from my home airport which is literally five minutes from my office to one of the hundreds of small local airports dotted across the Southeast without any delay, interruption and/or commercial entanglements. As a direct and immediate result of general aviation, I am able to easily travel to multiple cities in one day, and work much more quickly and efficiently than I would ever have been able to otherwise.
I know I am far from alone. Many small businesses, emergency service providers and others across Florida and the U.S. depend on small aircraft and our network of local airports. These aircraft and airports support over a million American jobs, including over 64,000 here in Florida. General aviation is also used in law enforcement, emergency medical care, firefighting, and disaster response, and is a huge resource in critical situations where every second counts.
Unfortunately, it may not always be this way. Some in Washington are pushing a plan to privatize air traffic control, impose new taxes and fees, and remove Congressional oversight of the system. These fees could make flying prohibitively expensive for smaller users, cutting them off from all the benefits it provides. And without Congressional oversight, large commercial interests like the biggest airlines could shape air traffic control to serve their interests instead of the those of the public.
Our air transportation must continue to serve the needs of consumers, businesses, airports and communities – large and small. As our leaders debate changes that could have major repercussions for our economy and our air transportation system as a whole, we need to make sure that they understand the importance of all sectors of aviation so that all aviation sectors continue to serve as an important lifeline for communities across our state and nation.
John Geirach is an attorney and private pilot in Orlando.