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Looking Back, Looking Ahead
After more than 40 years traveling to Oshkosh each summer, this year’s event is particularly special to me, as it will be the last year I attend before retiring from Congress this January. Those who know me know that one of my strongest passions is being an advocate for the entirety of general aviation.
As I look back on my tenure in Congress, I am reminded of everything we have gotten done. I think about when we got Bob Hoover back into the air and when the Pilot’s Bill of Rights was signed into law in 2012. Other moments that stand out include finally passing third-class medical reform, as well as enacting legislation supporting the development and spread of school curriculum necessary to maintain and grow the aviation workforce.
Even with all of the progress that we have made during my time in office, there is much to be done. This year, specifically, I am focusing my efforts on promoting and urging a safe and smart transition to unleaded aviation fuels for piston-engine aircrafts. It is imperative that the federal government, fuel producers and distributors, airports, and pilots all work together to make the transition to unleaded fuels as seamless as possible, while ensuring no disruption of the supply of aviation fuel to the general aviation community.
General aviation is part of our everyday lives — from agricultural aviation to law enforcement and medical transport to leisure and sightseeing and everything in between. Events like EAA AirVenture Oshkosh showcase how critical a safe and widely available aviation fuel is to pilots, aircraft owners, and aviation enthusiasts alike. My top priority across my entire career has been ensuring that pilots are able to safely fly when they want to fly. However, if airports are able to unilaterally ban the sale of aviation fuels before an unleaded alternative is ready, there could be disastrous consequences. I am committed to making sure we create a better future for the next generation of aviation enthusiasts, and that starts with making sure pilots have fuel available when they want to fly.
Since the last EAA AirVenture, I have worked diligently to ensure that we are continuing to move in the right direction. In the past year alone, I introduced three bills to support the aviation community through the funding of hangars to investing in the future of aviation professionals. What’s more, the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved my bill to create the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation (NCAA) in April of this year. The NCAA will support and promote civil, commercial, and military aviation programs to address the demands and challenges associated with ensuring a safe and vibrant national aviation system.
We have done so much together since my career in Congress began. I have always been a devoted member, outspoken supporter, and relentless defender of the general aviation community, and my last year serving in Congress is no different. I know that, together, we can accomplish anything, and I will continue to fight for our shared priorities during my last months in office.
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, serves as ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He is also a member of the Small Business Committee and the Environment & Public Works Committee where he leads the Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee as ranking member. Sen. Inhofe is an avid pilot and committed supporter of infrastructure for the United States to drive the world’s economy.