Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) president John McKenna and Director and Florida Liaison Tim Clifford spent three action-packed days in Washington, DC in late February with multiple goals to educate policy makers on the issues recreational aviation faces; to further awareness of General Aviation’s stake on public lands as legitimate and recognized users and to solicit support of other aviation organizations. “We are way out front on this issue. Nobody has a similar message or presence,” McKenna said. He and Clifford were impressed when one of Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell’s staff recognized and acknowledged RAF president McKenna from having seen the RAF video. The staffer is one of the individuals assigned to draft the Service’s position on aircraft use on USFS lands.
“We had a very productive as well as enjoyable meeting with new AOPA President and CEO, Craig Fuller,” McKenna said. “He seems intent on engaging various aviation organizations more collaboratively as opposed to the old position of keeping them at arm’s length. We intend to make him a strong supporter of the RAF,” McKenna concluded.
The team also met with numerous Senators and members of Congress and staff. “We engaged some very bright and interested people who knew about public lands and usage issues and felt strongly about aviation’s right to access,” Clifford said, adding “I’m more hopeful than ever that our efforts will move the Recreational Aviation Foundation forward in a positive direction.”
An unexpected but encouraging encounter was with the office of Missouri Congressman Sam Graves, whose lobby and office are completely decorated with aviation memorabilia. Upon returning home, Clifford was pleased to have received an email from Mike Matousek in Congressman Graves’ office containing a list of 41 US Representatives, each with a tie to GA. Clifford said, “This signified a huge gesture of cooperation. It’s hard to imagine the amount of research and time it would have required for the RAF to gain this type of information and potential advocacy.”
The Recreational Aviation Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Bozeman, Montana whose mission is to take a leadership position in preserving and enhancing opportunities for recreational flying on private and public lands. We encourage your membership in this dynamic volunteer organization.
Submitted on March 15, 2009.