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The Sand Paper
Letters
Aviation Assets
Nov 11, 2015
The following is a rebuttal to the letter titled “Aviation Risks” 10/9.

To the Editor:

Gov. Chris Christie officially proclaimed May to be General Aviation Appreciation Month. As a general aviation pilot for the last decade, I was happy to learn this little known fact quite by accident. General aviation (GA) can be defined simply as all aviation, except airlines and the military. There are numerous reasons why we should appreciate GA, especially with its contributions to our local communities, and the benefits to the general public that it brings to New Jersey, and our nation as a whole.

Let’s start with a subject that is near and dear to me: animal rescues. A few years ago a good friend asked me to fly with him in his four-seater Cessna 172 to transport a puppy from Eagles Nest Airport to its new home in Virginia. It was a great experience, especially when we saw the smiles on the faces of the new owners when we arrived with their new family member.

Pilots N’ Paws and several other air transport rescue organizations coordinate thousands of flights with volunteer pilots nationwide in an effort to rescue thousands of pets annually. Many of these are from overcrowded kill shelters. Most would be euthanized if no local homes were found, and some are rescued just hours from death. Amazingly, these airlifts are totally free! How is this possible? GA pilots volunteer their time, skills and their planes, and they pay the entire cost of the flights including fuel, maintenance, insurance, meals and lodging.

Tens of thousands of volunteer pilots also provide activities for youth. Young Eagles is a primary example of an educational program that gives children, ages 8 to 17, the opportunity to experience the joy of flight, and it’s free! New Jersey’s Aviation Educational Council pioneered the use of GA as a method to boost children’s interest in overall learning and responsibility.

More recently, several State Aviation Education Councils have been formed to promote aviation education programs for students. Above the Cloud’s mission is to provide inspiration and hope for seriously ill and disadvantaged children through the wonder of flight. Lastly, Challenge Air For Kids And Friends offers inspirational flights for physically challenged children.

Although most take to the skies for the pure fun of it, humanitarian efforts for public health and well-being have been a priority for so many GA pilots. Many volunteer to transport blood supplies, transplant organs and patients in need of medical care, all at no cost to them. Angel Flights is just one of more than 60 groups created by volunteer pilots to provide free transport to those with financial or time-critical medical needs. These pilots assist their communities and others in disaster relief efforts, too.

One recent example took place at my home base, Eagles Nest, a full-service GA airport where they made a concerted effort to assist the National Guard in transporting and distributing food, water, clothing and medical supplies to shelters and victims who were devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Several other GA airports volunteered for this disaster effort as well. One last but important demonstration of general aviation’s selfless achievements is the Veteran’s Airlift Command, which provides free air transportation to combat-wounded soldiers and their families via a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.

GA helps the local, state and national economy as well. On Feb. 11, eight associations jointly released a study stating general aviation contributes over a million jobs and billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. This and other studies confirm that GA positively affects communities in all 50 U.S. states, and New Jersey is no exception. The state’s GA facilities alone attract $1.5 billion to the state, employing more than 8,000.

Unfortunately, anti-airport advocates continue to push their personal agendas to close more airports. GA has no ad campaigns to help demystify and educate the general public of its many virtues. This letter has merely a sampling of the little-known contributions that airports and pilots have to offer, which enhance the quality of our lives and our communities for the public good.

Allan L. Streit

Barnegat

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