CHARLESTON W.Va. — All October long, West Virginians have been celebrating General Aviation Appreciation Month.
Governor Jim Justice has signed a proclamation declaring the month-long appreciation for flying on October 1.
“Across the country, general aviation and local airports are really important both economically and serving as a lifeline to many rural communities and that’s particularly the case in West Virginia,” Selena Shilad, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America, said. “Where you have an economic impact of a billion dollars with activity that is supported by industry as well as the economic activity that is supported by the network of airports around the state.”
Justice stated in the proclamation that general aviation in West Virginia supports 5,300 jobs in the state, resulting in $256 million in labor income and in addition, general aviation contributes over $1 billion to the state’s total economic output annually.
“The governor’s proclamation really helps to raise awareness about the importance of general aviation and the general network of airports across West Virginia,” Shilad said. “It really is an important economic driver. Then it also supports so many critical services like medical care, law enforcement, disaster relief, organ/blood transport, firefighting, a lot of agricultural activity.”
West Virginia has 17 general aviation airports serving more than 1,720 pilots and 1,021 active general aviation aircraft, according to the proclamation. Charleston mayor Danny Jones and Clarksburg mayor Catherine Goings have also made proclamations towards aviation in recent weeks.
Shilad stated though that the number of pilots, number of people learning to fly and the number of people wanting to get their license are down across the country.
“We do see some challenges in local flying,” Shilad said. “People are still learning but these types of proclamations help in that regard. They help to raise awareness that there are local airports and young people may see that there are flying lessons.”
The Alliance for Aviation Across America is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of over 6,300 individuals, businesses, agricultural groups, FBO’s, small airports, elected officials, charitable organizations, and leading business and aviation groups that are helping to raise awareness about the value of general aviation and local airports.
For more information on local aviation, visit avaiationacrossamerica.org.
“I think as people are contacting members of Congress, talking to their local media, talking to local rotary clubs, or attending chamber of commerce meetings, often it gets lost of how their local airport is a critical part of the infrastructure.”
“Be aware and become members of ours. Help take the message to local community leaders and groups are all helpful ways for people to get involved and stay in the loop about the value of their local airport.”