From Oshkosh and Tarkio: Air Shows, Barbecues and Fellowship with Aviation Enthusiasts

August 2, 2013

After a successful NATA Board of Directors Meeting in Minneapolis in early July, I had an opportunity to travel to Tarkio, Missouri where House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves hosted a fly-in and air show in his hometown. Now, I have to admit I had never been to Tarkio, but it was a fabulous venue that showcased the passion and diversity of our great general aviation community.  From war birds to Stearmans to aerobatic helicopters, it was fantastic to smell a little avgas and jet fuel in my nostrils once again.  And the aviation stories and the barbecue were great too!

While in Tarkio, I participated in an aviation panel with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger and the leaders of most of today’s general and business aviation associations. 

This week, I spoke on another panel at the EAA’s 2013 AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  AirVenture is one of the best events of the year and it always reminds me just why I first started flying many years ago.  During  my presentations both in Tarkio and Oshkosh, I took a few minutes to discuss the critical role that NATA members play in building their businesses at our country’s airports.  Our members are job creators.  And NATA is here every day engaging in the legislative and regulatory processes because we fully understand the impact that laws and rules have on your bottom line. At both gatherings, I also talked about the importance of the entire aviation community working together to ensure that we can successfully drive aviation policies.  Our nation must have a vibrant aviation system that spans all spectrums – from experimental, to business, to commercial.  It is critically important not just for our associations’ members, but to our nation’s economy. 

Ben Franklin famously said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”  The same is true in Washington on policy matters that affect our industry.  Today, the leaders of general aviation associations recognize the need to work more closely than ever before.  This means more frequent and robust communications between our association leaders, staffs, and members.  We are already seeing success using this strategy.

When I wrapped up my talks at AirVenture and Congressman Graves’ fly in, I spoke of educating our policy makers and the general public on the vital importance of aviation to our nation’s economy, of developing and introducing aviation to young people, of building a strong culture of safety and responsibility, and of our need to focus and work together for the future of our great aviation community.  This is our formula for winning in the future.  I’ll be making several member visits and participating in town hall events in the coming weeks and months.  I look forward to smelling some more avgas and eating some more barbecue.  Check out our website at for the dates.  If you are in the area, please stop by.  Thanks for your steadfast support and please let us know how we can help! 


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