Harrison Ford Speaks to GA Caucus Members
April 29, 2010 —At an event co-hosted this week by EAA and four other aviation organizations, actor, pilot, and aviation advocate Harrison Ford talked of general aviation’s vital importance before members and staff of the House and Senate General Aviation Caucuses. Ford, who served as EAA’s Chairman of the Young Eagles program for six years, is now serving as spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations' (AOPA) General Aviation Serves America campaign.
“It’s important to get the word out on what GA does for America,” Ford said. “Aviation needs to be represented in a positive light.”
Ford, who shared the stage with AOPA President Craig Fuller, noted the 231,000 general aviation aircraft fly throughout the country every day. “That’s a lot more than people realize,” he said. “The economic impact of the industry is another factor that many people aren’t aware of - that it employs over 1.3 million people and contributes over $150 billion to our nation’s economy.”
Ford also spoke of his recent volunteer efforts to fly doctors and supplies to earthquake-stricken Haiti, where he said the number of GA aircraft helping the relief effort put a positive face on America and “displayed the dedication and selflessness” of GA pilots.
More than 20 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and five Senators were present, as were a number of staff members of other GA Caucus members. Other organizations co-hosting the event were the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).
Fuller, in discussing the variety of aviation-based events in the U.S. that help promote GA, made special mention of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. “Tom’s (Poberezny) program at AirVenture in Oshkosh is just phenomenal. If you go there and don’t get excited about GA, then the blood isn’t flowing, because it’s a spectacular event.”
Ford, when asked what could be done to reverse the decline in the pilot population in recent years, indicated that young people needed to be introduced to aviation as a potential vocation and personal pastime. He pointed to EAA's Young Eagles program, which has introduced aviation to more than 1.5 million young people by giving them flights in recreational aircraft, as the most outstanding outreach effort to date and encouraged more positive interactions with the non-flying public such as these.
Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.), co-chairman of GA Caucus, also mentioned the importance of EAA’s Young Eagles program in engaging our youth in aviation. He also talked about International Learn to Fly Day, GA’s cooperative effort to introduce aviation to the non-flying public, scheduled for May 15, 2010. Ehlers, a self-described pilot in training, co-sponsored a congressional resolution introduced by fellow caucus co-chairman Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) that would proclaim the third Saturday of May as International Learn to Fly Day. Read his remarks about the legislation here.