Policy & Airports
Promoting and Supporting General Aviation and the Public's Understanding of it


Developing Public Policy and Airports:  

A Focus on Regional and State Aviation Groups and Airport Associations

A critical asset in the development of appropriate public policy at the local, state, regional, and national levels is the leader or spokesperson who develops and promotes those pro-aviation concepts needing discussion. Large aviation organizations such as AOPA, NAA, EAA, and others are often effective in working at the national level or within a specific category of general aviation activity, but at the state and local levels the debate is often carried by volunteers working with minimum resources.   

Especially at the level of airports, the participation in discussions regarding airport projects, funding, encouragement of incubator facilities for innovative firms, and setting of regulations and fees is dominated by political appointees and sometimes by compromised airport managersTN00047A.gif (2049 bytes) rather than by the affected aviation businesses, users, and innovators. Airports are also where the fight is often waged over such critical issues as incompatible land use and life-threatening obstructions such as tall antenna towers affecting approaches to the airports.

Yet as important as local airport advocacy groups have proven to be, many well-intentioned aviation advocacy efforts falter or wither because of the lack of critical resources or basic organizational skills. Leaders often spend as much effort struggling with internal conflicts as in shaping public discussion.

Also, inexperience in maintaining essential administrative functions often leads to confused and demoralized members. As member databases or newsletter files get passed from volunteer to volunteer the ongoing business suffers. Newsletters are delayed - often indefinitely. Member dues are collected haphazardly or inaccurately, eroding member confidence and reducing available local resources. Group leaders are often desperately in need of help in finding solutions to such problems.

Sometimes those who promote improved advocacy work can identify those leaders who have been successful and ask them to act as resources for those who are still seeking direction and methodology. However, because they are volunteers, usually working full time at their regular occupations, they may have serious time constraints. And especially, they often lack the extra resources needed to travel to meet others or obtain electronic mail capabilities so they can network more effectively.

Support might be sought to assist participants to help organize and attend conferences where they could learn essential skills and network with others, enabling them to develop effective communications tools for themselves and their organizations enhancing each leader's and each group's effectiveness.

In addition, we might be able to help provide or find relatively small grants for equipment and other resources that might lead to more professional production of the groups' newsletters and administration of their membership databases, perhaps through efforts involving several such groups working cooperatively.

As surprising as it may seem, airports are often not recognized for what they are: the first line of defense for preserving our vital aviation transportation infrastructure, and the vanguard of efforts promoting aviation and teaching the general public about how aviation enhances citizens' lives. Any efforts the Wolf Foundation can support or publicize that bring together users, businesses, airport managers, and the many aviation groups will do much to revitalize general aviation for the future.

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Last modified: April 17, 2019