Hosted by the Association of California Airports (ACA), the two-day event in Sacramento was designed to educate legislators, staff, and the public about the importance of aviation to the state.
Along with the California Pilots Association (CalPilots), the National Business Aviation Association, and other industry stakeholders, AOPA played an active role as sponsor in highlighting issues such as airport preservation, aviation funding and infrastructure, renewable energy policies in airport planning, the coming generation of electric aircraft, and safely transitioning to unleaded aviation fuel.
AOPA, stakeholders, and attendees also had the chance to meet with more than 50 California legislators including Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-District 23)—a pilot, AOPA member, and chair of the California Aviation Caucus. Patterson spoke on the second day of the event, sharing his passion for aviation and airport preservation, and presented a proclamation to ACA designating June as General Aviation Month in the state.
Despite the substantial role they play in California’s economy, many lawmakers and residents aren’t aware of the benefits aerospace and aviation contribute to the state. In fact, California aviation products and services relate to more than 4 percent of the United States’ total gross domestic product, while GA alone contributes to more than $30 billion—the highest impact of any state. California is also home to some 250 GA airports, nearly 60,000 certificated pilots, and roughly 28,000 aircraft.
AOPA Regional Manager Kyle Lewis, who represented AOPA at the event, said, “In many cases, these legislators have never been exposed to general aviation, so it was great to talk about how the industry serves communities all across the state. Aside from the obvious economic benefits, airports provide access to remote areas, emergency medical transport, and disaster response—it’s vital that we protect all airports and raise awareness for the benefits of aviation as a whole.”