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POV: Community airports keep us safe

The same advantages that make general aviation and local airports for emergency services and public safety also make it an attractive business tool. South Albany Airport has been an FAA registered airport since 1947 beginning as a grass strip on a farm. Since then the airport has grown and presently there are now 43 based privately owned airplanes (four twin engine and 39 single engine). Many recent improvements have been made including a parallel taxiway, ramp area expansion, a 10-unit shade hangar and a recently built maintenance hangar. Services provided are 100 LL gas and Jet-A fuel. Aircraft hangar and tie-downs are also provided.

General aviation enables our local economies, both big and small, to grow by providing businesses an efficient way of moving people and goods where they need them. In fact, in total, general aviation accounts for $150 billion in economic activity across the country each year, supporting 1.2 million jobs. In New York, it creates over $9.2 billion in economic impact and supports over 347,000 jobs. South Albany Airport alone generates $1.1 million a year in economic impact for the local community, and is continuing to grow with new hangers and expansions in the works.

While general aviation is relied upon in thousands of communities across the country, for everything from saving lives to enabling job-creating opportunities, many lawmakers and the general public are still not fully aware of all of its benefits. For example, the president proposed implementing a “user fee” tax as part of his budget proposal for 2013. This tax would act as a toll every time a general aviation aircraft takes to the air — regardless of its size or cargo. This tax would hit small- and medium-sized businesses the worst, helping to eliminate the benefits general aviation brings to them just as they are beginning to recover from the recession, not to mention the financial toll on those who volunteer their time and effort for charitable flights. In addition, this tax would also place a cumbersome administrative burden on small businesses and organizations that use general aviation, and would require a whole new bureaucracy in the FAA to administer these new fees and taxes.

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