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GA Caucus Co-Chair's Remarks on 'Learn to Fly Day' Resolution

April 29, 2010 —Co-Chairman of the Congressional General Aviation Caucus, Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.) had the following comments entered in to the record of Thursday’s mark-up session for the Learn to Fly Day Resolution (H.R. 1284), introduced last week in the House by Co-Chairman Allen Boyd (D-Fla.).

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member. As many of you know, I am an aviation enthusiast, and a pilot-in-training. I am also one of the House co-chairs, along with Congressman Allen Boyd, of the General Aviation Caucus, which currently has 116 Members. Earlier this week, the GA groups held a wonderful event with actor/pilot Harrison Ford, who described his work with GA’s relief efforts in Haiti. (As an aside, Allen and I will be introducing a resolution honoring GA’s Haiti relief efforts soon - some of you have already joined us as original cosponsors.)

As you may remember, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Petri, a few years ago, the Aviation Subcommittee, under the guidance of Chairman Costello, began taking CODEL trips to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. For those of you who have not been to Oshkosh, I strongly encourage you all to go. AirVenture is the premier world event for general aviation, and Mr. Petri is fortunate to host this great event in his district every summer.

One thing that is obvious when you talk to visitors at AirVenture, or whenever you talk to a pilot, is that they are all passionate about aviation, and they are all eager to share that passion with others. Regrettably, the number of pilots in this country is rapidly decreasing. The only way to get more pilots involved is to get more people, especially young people, interested in aviation. The easiest way to do that is to give them a ride in a small GA airplane—I guarantee they will never forget the trip.

Last summer, at Oshkosh, it was announced that there would be an International Learn to Fly Day every year on the third Saturday in May. H.Res. 1284, the resolution before us, which I introduced with Rep. Boyd, would recognize this day in May as International Learn to Fly Day. The resolution recognizes the contributions of flight instructors, flight schools, aviation groups, and industry in promoting aviation and teaching the Nation’s next generation of pilots. On May 15th of this year, aviation groups at airports around the country will be holding aviation related events, discussions, displays, and some will even be offering airplane rides, all in the hopes of attracting new aviation enthusiasts, and also encouraging people to learn to fly.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Petri, for allowing me to discuss this resolution. The Chairman will be offering a Managers Amendment making minor technical corrections to the resolution, and I support the amendment. I hope all of my colleagues will join me in voting for this resolution, and also hope that you will participate in an aviation event in your district on Learn to Fly Day.

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