California Aviation Awareness Day

‘No Plane No Gain’ Message Highlighted at Inaugural California Aviation Awareness Day – A diverse cross section of California-based aircraft owners and operators gathered April 24 at the state capitol in Sacramento for the first-ever California Aviation Awareness Day, a two-hour interactive forum where participants were able to engage with lawmakers and the general public in discussions about the importance of the aviation industry to the California economy.

California Aviation Awareness DayEvent organizers noted that California is home to 246 public-use airports, all but 30 of which are utilized only by general aviation. The aviation industry contributes $154.7 billion annually to the state’s economy, including $18.2 billion from general aviation alone, the largest economic contribution by the industry at the state level. Aviation also supports 1.1 million jobs in the Golden State, or 5.5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

As California continues to grapple with a challenging economic climate, the aviation industry’s many contributions to the state’s fiscal outlook are even more important, said NBAA Project Manager, Operations & Web Development – and California resident – Mark Larsen.

“California Aviation Awareness Day was an extremely important opportunity to meet face-to-face with state legislators and their staff about the value of all general aviation, including business aviation, in our state,” Larsen said. “Business aircraft are not only incredibly valuable tools utilized by many California companies; they also are a significant contributor to the state’s coffers.”

That message is also at the heart of the No Plane No Gain campaign, jointly organized by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association to reinforce the value of business aviation to citizens, companies and communities across the country.

An invitation-only reception on the evening of April 23 for elected officials kicked off California Aviation Awareness Day. Organizers distributed informational packets to every state assembly member and senator, offering the opportunity for those lawmakers to speak with constituents and industry experts about the important role aviation plays in California.

One of those industry representatives was Don Hitch, vice president of flight operations for Bakersfield-based Paramount Citrus.

“Our company is a classic example of the incredible value of general aviation aircraft as a business tool,” Hitch said. “Our aircraft fly a combined 2,500 hours per year in support of our operations, and I wanted to be in Sacramento today to make sure our lawmakers saw how important this industry is to our livelihood and success.”

“We had a very impressive turnout at the capitol, especially for a first-time event,” added Bob Hala, advocacy committee chairman for the Northern California Business Aviation Association. “We met with many enthusiastic people from several sectors of the industry, including business aircraft operators.”

Based on the response to the inaugural gathering, Hala said he is “100 percent certain” that California Aviation Awareness Day will become an annual event.