AOPA Holds Congressional Meet & Greet At Thunderbird Aviation

Published in Midwest Flyer – October/November 2018 issue

EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. – Longtime GA ally and supporter, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), a member of the House General Aviation Caucus, and cosponsor of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, which included third-class medical reform (BasicMed), met with AOPA members and representatives of the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association (MATA) August 24, 2018 at Thunderbird Aviation, Flying Cloud Airport, Eden Prairie, Minn.

Paulsen kicked off the event speaking about the FAA reauthorization bill and efforts over the past two years to remove air traffic control from the FAA. Despite pressure from leaders in his party, Paulsen told attendees that he could not support the bill without GA’s seal of approval. The House passed its FAA reauthorization bill without the controversial ATC privatization proposal on April 27 by a vote of 393 to 13. Paulsen voted for the bill.

Representing AOPA at the event was Scott Verstandig, AOPA Senior Director of Legislative Affairs. Representing MATA was Nancy Grazzini-Olson of Thunderbird Aviation and former Minnesota legislator, Mike Beard.

Other topics discussed included the impact of the 1500-hour rule on pilots and the aviation industry, prospects for a driver’s license medical, and airport development grants.

With a total annual economic output of $229 million, supporting 1,190 jobs, Flying Cloud Airport is an invaluable resource for Eden Prairie, Minnesota. In 2017, the airport had more than 90,000 takeoffs and landings. There are 373 aircraft based on the field.

In June, the airport was awarded a $1.1 million grant for infrastructure improvements including installing airfield guidance signs, runway lighting, and reconstructing a runway, which Paulsen supported.

Flying Cloud Airport is one of six reliever airports operated by the Metropolitan Airports Commission, with Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as the air carrier airport in the Twin Cities.

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