How Flying Supports Both Charity and Valley Business
September 21, 2016
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  • As the CEO of Tucknott Electric Co., I have been working in electrical construction for about 50 years. But in the last 10 to 12 years, I have also been working as a certified forensic litigation expert. This work takes me all over the region and state.

    Sometimes, it makes sense to fly with a commercial airline. But sometimes, it makes more sense for me to fly my own plane.

    I have been a pilot for more than 40 years. I have used my plane to get to industry meetings and seminars.

    For business, insurance companies will call me to ask if I can visit and evaluate a site; it is critical to be able to get to the scene as quickly as possible.

    Last week, I got a call to be in Bakersfield to visit the site of a fire and I had to arrive as quickly as possible. It was too short notice to get a commercial flight, but by flying my own aircraft I was able to get to the site in 90 minutes.

    People throughout our state rely on general aviation every day in many different ways – almost too many to describe. Companies use it to stay competitive and reach far-away markets, farmers use aircraft to maintain crops, companies use planes to maintain power lines and repair infrastructure. General aviation in California represents a $30 billion industry and supports more than 139,000 jobs.

    In addition to my small business, general aviation enables me to participate in charitable activities that support patients in need. I am a volunteer pilot and founder of the Northern California chapter for Angel Flight West, which provides flights free of cost to patients battling life-threatening illnesses.

    On Sept. 11, 2001, I helped get donated blood to those who needed it. But my most memorable volunteer flight was helping to support a corneal transplant for a patient who ultimately got his vision back.

    Further, law enforcement, emergency medical responders and firefighters all rely heavily on general aviation. In fact, I use my plane to volunteer for our sheriff’s department, the Coast Guard and to support firefighting efforts as needed.

    Some politicians don’t appreciate the important role of general aviation and small airports in our communities. Some have even suggested removing congressional oversight of the nation’s air-traffic-control system and putting it under the control of a board dominated by a board of private interests. Decisions ranging from taxes and fees to routes to terminal gate assignments would be decided largely by the big airlines.

    Congressional oversight of air-traffic-control systems is essential to ensure that it continues to work in the best interest of all Americans.

    Bob Tucknott is a Pleasanton electrical contractor; he wrote this for the Merced Sun-Star.