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Stronger Together: GA Rallies the Troops in South Dakota

EAA President Rod Hightower with Vern Kraemer, EAA 72.


September 1, 2011 –There are a total of 72 airports throughout the entire state of South Dakota, with only six providing commercial passenger service. “Now that’s a state that appreciates the value of GA,” said EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower at the GAMA South Dakota General Aviation Rally Wednesday, August 31, at the Pierre Regional Airport (PIR).

Hightower and other GA organization leaders appeared at the event organized by GAMA, not only to send a message to the public that GA is crucial to the economy by creating jobs and generating millions of dollars of economic impact, but also for health care, agriculture, politics, and law enforcement. More than 100 people, many of them EAA members, turned out at Mustang Aviation, with special guests Governor Dennis Daugaard and U.S. Senator John Thune.

“We have a large state, vast geography, wide open space, so we have great history and heritage with GA in South Dakota,” said Thune, who is ranking member of the Senate aviation subcommittee. “So it’s really important that we appreciate that but we also look at that continuing in the future and that’s what many of the people here are interested in and committed to.”

Other GA leaders appearing were Pete Bunce of GAMA, Craig Fuller of AOPA, Dick Doubrava of NBAA, Jim Coyne of NATA, and John Cudahy of ICAS. As he stresses at his Grassroots Pilot Tour stops, Hightower spoke about two subjects: how EAA is creating the next generation of aviators, and how the various GA organizations are stronger when they work together.

“There are two cards you need to carry in your wallets,” he said “AOPA, to protect your right to fly, and EAA, to create the next generation of aviators. We’re stronger together when all associations are working to be better advocates of GA.”

Hightower met with several EAA members, most notably Vern Kraemer, EAA 72, who joined the association all the way back in 1953. Vern mentioned receiving dual training a few years ago in EAA's Spirit of St. Louis replica.

 Hightower also gave special thanks to event hosts Jim and Kathy Peitz of Mustang Aviation. Jim is an air show performer and has flown many times at Oshkosh.

“They’re longtime EAA members who truly understand the impact and value of GA,” Hightower said.


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