News & Information You’ll Want To Know In Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota & South Dakota
by Bryan Budds
Manager, AOPA Great Lakes Region
Over the past year, several state aviation offices have created advisory committees to help guide the offices as they look to bolster general aviation with ever-declining funds. AOPA is very proud to have partnered with the Michigan Aeronautics Commission as a member of the General Aviation Committee, the Minnesota Office of Aeronautics as part of its “Soup Group” of industry representatives, and the Ohio Office of Aviation as part of the Ohio Airports Focus Study Project Advisory Committee. While you likely have not heard of these groups, they have proven to be extremely valuable in strengthening the GA industry in a variety of ways.
The Michigan Aeronautics Commission, the governing body of aviation in the state, realized there was a need for a group to keep their pulse on the GA industry from all parts of the state. To help the commission make informed decisions, the commission tapped people from all walks of the aviation life – from airport managers and commissioners, airport consultants, business aviation pilots, unmanned systems operators, pilot groups, back-country flyers and even Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering (STEM) education specialists. The goal is simple: “To promote and increase the use and enjoyment of general aviation in Michigan.”
One way the Michigan committee has done that over its two years of existence is through the reactivation of the “STEM in Flight” teacher workshop. The workshop brings educators from across the state together in an immersive aviation-themed day. The intent of the day is to show educators just how well-suited aviation is as a teaching tool and how their local airport can be an excellent classroom. With the help of each member of the General Aviation Committee, the teacher workshops have been very successful.
Similarly, the Minnesota Office of Aeronautics called together a similar group of aviation professionals to help promote general aviation and to assist the office on general aviation specific issues. Having been in existence for just slightly over a year, the Minnesota Soup Group continues to recruit new members and to set its sights on achievable goals. Recent sessions have centered on growing participation and awareness for the Aeronautics Office’s current aviation education programs including Aviation Career Education (ACE) camps, teacher presentations, elementary outreach and other great resources.
The Ohio Office of Aviation formed a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) to help guide the office as it progressed through the Ohio Airports Focus Study. While PAC has a slightly different charge than the groups above, it does similarly important work in bringing all components of the aviation industry together to help guide airport engineers and consultants, ODOT staff, and others as they forge a plan to keep Ohio’s airport system strong in the face of shrinking budgets.
I cannot commend MDOT, MnDOT, and ODOT enough for their outreach to the aviation community to help better their respective states. As AOPA has seen across the country, having an already ‘dialed in’ group of aviation leaders as a sounding board when critical issues arise is critical. We are proud to continue to grow these relationships on behalf of AOPA members from across the region! If you are interested in participating or sharing any issues you notice in your state, please let me know!