AOPA joined Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) to host a roundtable event to discuss general aviation, small airports, and the transportation issues facing rural communities.
Some 30 people representing all aspects of the GA community from pilots to business owners took part in the forum, which included a tour of the facilities at Mount Hawley Auxiliary Airport in Peoria, Illinois, where the Aug. 23 event was held.
“General aviation supports 42,400 jobs and contributes more than $9 billion in output to the Illinois economy, and as a member of the general aviation caucus, Congressman Darin LaHood understands this well,” said AOPA Senior Director of Legislative Affairs Scott Verstandig, who took part in the meeting. “We appreciate Representative LaHood for taking the time to meet with AOPA members to discuss what can be done to protect and promote general aviation and all its benefits in Illinois.”
During the forum, which focused on ways to boost GA in the state and beyond, LaHood noted that GA helps link rural communities with metropolitan areas and delivers access to medical care that might not otherwise be available.
“Today’s tour and forum provided an important opportunity for me to learn how federal government can support the industry as its members facilitate economic growth and job creation,” LaHood said after the meeting. “As Congress continues to debate a long-term extension of the Federal Aviation Administration, it is invaluable for me to hear directly from local general aviation pilots to represent their perspective in Washington.”
The current FAA authorization expires in September 2017, and discussions around what to include in the next reauthorization effort have already begun in Congress.
Gene Olson, director of airports of the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria, noted that the majority of airline pilots come from the ranks of GA, making airports like Mount Hawley important centers for economic growth and the future of aviation.