Published in Midwest Flyer – June/July 2019 issue
ST. PAUL, MINN. – There’s no stronger way to demonstrate unity in aviation than for pilots, airport managers and aviation business men and women to meet with their respective state legislators once a year. Members of the three professional aviation organizations sponsoring the event – Minnesota Business Aviation Association (MBAA), Minnesota Council of Airports (MCOA) and Minnesota Aviation Trades Association (MATA) – gathered April 10, 2019 in St. Paul to solicit support for their local airports and aviation in general.
Meetings with representatives were scheduled in advance. Topics discussed ranged from airport funding to tuition reimbursement for Minnesota residents seeking careers in aviation. Following morning appointments with legislators, the group met back at St. Paul Downtown Airport – Holman Field for lunch, and for a presentation by Alex Gertsen, C.M., director of airports and ground infrastructure with the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).
Talking points included:
1. The importance of adequately funding the Minnesota Airport System, and the correlation between a community having a good airport and a strong economy.
2. Support for proposed changes to Minnesota airport zoning statutes, which would improve the integration of airport zoning with local planning and zoning.
3. Remind legislators that the Minnesota Airports Fund is totally user fee generated through the aircraft registration tax, flight property tax, and fuel tax, and that no general funds are used for airport development.
4. Aviation has a $12.1 billion economic impact on the Minnesota economy, and provides nearly 165,000 jobs, generating more than $6.4 billion in labor income.
5. Medium and small general aviation airports are important to local businesses, and are used for medical air services, firefighting, aerial application, and the inspection of pipelines and transmission lines. Only nine (9) airports in Minnesota are served by the airlines, while all 134 public-use airports are used by general aviation.
Organizers hope to involve the members of other state aviation organizations in the event in 2020, including the Minnesota Pilots Association (MPA), Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association (MSPA), Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA), Commemorative Air Force (CAF), and chapters of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). In addition, airport consultants, aircraft manufacturers, corporate flight department managers, and other leaders throughout the Minnesota aviation community, are encouraged to participate.
Coordinating the event was Tim Cossalter of the Minnesota Business Aviation Association. Hosting the event at St. Paul Downtown Airport was Joe Harris, airport manager. Catering was provided by Holman’s Table, which is located in the historic terminal building at the airport. Meetings with state representatives were held at the state capitol.