As a global powersports leader, our company knows the importance of getting people where they want to go, no matter the terrain. So when we need to transport our personnel to plants across the U.S., we turn to general aviation.
In my role as senior pilot for Polaris Industries, I fly our employees from our headquarters in Flying Cloud, Minn., to plants across Minnesota, South Dakota, Ohio, and Alabama, even Mexico. With airlines cutting services to rural areas and smaller communities, the accessibility that our airplane gives us is a competitive edge.
For our business and others across the state, general aviation helps increase productivity and improve flexibility. In Minnesota, general aviation contributes over $5.3 billion to the state’s total economic output and supports 26,200 jobs. General aviation also supports our communities by providing services like disaster relief, law enforcement and medical care.
I know how important general aviation can be for supporting medical care because I fly missions for Veterans Airlift Command, an organization that flies veterans across the state and country to receive medical care. One of my missions was to fly an Army National Guardsman’s children from Minnesota to visit their father while he was recovering in the D.C. area. Whether it is organ transport, delivering specialty care to rural areas, or Medevacs and emergency care, helicopters and small aircraft are an important part of our national infrastructure.
But there are some people who still don’t understand how important general aviation is to local businesses and rural communities. For example, some on Capitol Hill are pushing to privatize our air traffic control system. This would take away Congressional oversight of our air system and give private interests a say in who gets to access where and when. This could cut off rural areas and harm small businesses that depend on general aviation.
Fortunately, many of our communities and local officials have recognized the importance of general aviation and local airports for Minnesota and its people. Let’s work to ensure our aviation system continues to serve communities and businesses of all sizes.
(Tim Howard is a Senior Pilot at Polaris Industries.)