by Bill Blake, AOPA Great Lakes Regional Representative
Peter Kamaranien of Grand Ledge, Michigan, owner of GrandAir Aviation, Inc. at Abrams Municipal Airport, and J. David VanderVeen of Clarkston, Michigan, who is the director of Central Services for Oakland County, have been appointed by Michigan Governor Snyder to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission.
Kamaranien is a commercial pilot and has been a flight instructor for more than 20 years. Kamaranien earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Michigan State University.
VanderVeen is a pilot and current member of the Board of Directors of the Michigan Business Aviation Association (MBAA). VanderVeen is also a charter member of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.
AOPA is pleased that Governor Snyder selected two individuals with strong aviation backgrounds, as well as strong business and governmental backgrounds. We look forward to working with these two new commissioners and continuing to work with the previously selected commissioners for the good of Michigan aviation.
Speaking about the good of Michigan aviation, you may remember me mentioning Michigan House Bill 4025. That is the bill sponsored by strong aviation advocate state Representative Dave Agema, which would dedicate part of the state sales tax on aviation fuel and aviation products to the state aviation trust fund. The Michigan House Transportation Committee held hearings on the bill in late June. I provided testimony on behalf of AOPA at the hearings, as did representatives from the Michigan Business Aviation Association, and the Michigan Association of Airport Executives. Our combined testimony was designed to educate the committee on the importance of general aviation to the Michigan economy, the need to improve and maintain the airport infrastructure, and the fact that Michigan aviation taxes are among the highest in the nation. Those purchasing aviation fuel in Michigan have been paying more Michigan sales tax because of the increasing fuel prices, upon which the percentage sales tax is based. However, Michigan aviation is not receiving any direct benefit from those increasing sales taxes. House Bill 4025 would correct that. Although at the time of this writing, the committee had not voted on whether to recommend the bill, it did seem to be positive toward our presentations and members of the committee asked some insightful questions, which makes me believe they got the message loud and clear!
I attended the 56th Annual Wisconsin Aviation Conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin, May 2-4, 2011. The Wisconsin Airport Management Association, Wisconsin Airport Engineers and Consultants, Wisconsin Aviation Trades Association, and Wisconsin Business Aviation Association jointly sponsor the conference. This conference is always well attended and this year was no exception. There were nearly 300 people in attendance. Conference seminars were a good mix of local hands-on airport issues, state and federal airport system funding issues, and national issues such as ADS-B and the future of aviation fuel.
I also attended the annual spring Illinois Aviation Conference in Springfield, Illinois, May 24-25, 2011. The Illinois Public Airports Association, Illinois Aviation Trades Association, and IDOT Division of Aeronautics jointly sponsor the conference. Approximately 165 people attended this conference, which, like the Wisconsin conference, had a good mix of seminars covering local, state and federal funding, and other national issues. As in most of the Great Lakes states, the state’s budget issues are paramount. At least so far, the state has been able to maintain its capital program, fearing that cutting it would increase unemployment and cause even more difficulties.
Although a separate organization and event, by tradition, the annual Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame banquet and investiture ceremonies were held at the conclusion of the aviation conference on May 25th. There were 225 tickets sold to the event, a record number and sellout for the room available. Those inducted this year were Bob Reiser (Aurora, Illinois Airport Manager), Harrel Timmons (owner/ operator of Jet Air, Inc., the FBO at Galesburg, Illinois), Nick Lung (retired United Airlines Captain), and yours truly. I was truly honored and humbled to be included with this group and those inducted before me.
By the way, if you are looking for a great flying weekend in September, I highly recommend the Annual Michigan Air Tour being held this year, September 9-11, 2011. The tour has a different route and theme each year. I believe this year it is billed as a historical tour. Usually 30 planes fly to various airports in the state delivering a message about the economic impact of general aviation on each of the airports visited and its surrounding communities. Hotel rooms, meals, and ground transportation are included. I would urge you to look at the tour website for more details: www.miaviation.org.
AOPA will continue to work to promote and protect general aviation at the national, state, and local level. For more information on any issue affecting general aviation, please visit our website at: www.aopa.org.