An American Success Story

One of the best parts of my job is getting to meet many of NATA’s members and other general aviation professionals as I travel to the various aviation conferences, seminars and educational events around the country. There is something special about general aviation and those who choose to work in this field. My love of aviation began when I was 10. I was having trouble in school with my weekly spelling tests, and my father made a deal with me: every A I earned on a spelling test would get me an hour or so on Saturday morning out on the observation deck at Washington Dulles International Airport watching the planes take off. Needless to say, my spelling grades improved dramatically. My career in aviation began 17 years later when I enrolled in a Part 147 A&P School in Manassas, VA. Having grown up always looking to the sky every time an airplane flew over, I decided that even though my college major had been chemistry I wanted to work with airplanes. As I began working towards my A&P license, I was lucky enough to get hired at a local FBO as line technician on the evening shift. The hours were horrible, school from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., then work from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. The pay wasn’t great. But I had never done anything in my life so exciting. I remember standing sometimes when the workload was low and watching a G-II take off (actually with a G-II you sort of feel it, don’t you!) and feeling like a little kid again.

Last year at NATA’s Day on the Hill, I heard NATA President James K. Coyne describe general aviation as an American success story while talking with a Member of Congress. That phrase stuck with me, an American success story is exactly what general aviation is. It began right here in America, and no other country in the world can match our utilization of aircraft for the growth of business, humanitarian causes and personal freedom. I think about that phrase often and why it is true. Every time I meet an NATA member, the reason is again evident. Whether a business owner, manager, customer service representative, pilot or just the guy fueling the airplanes, most of us are here for one reason: we love aviation! That is power that should not be underestimated. Just look at what we have built! I am currently reading Spirit of St. Louis by Charles Lindbergh, and am amazed at how similar the passion, dedication and attention to detail is between the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic and the NATA members I meet every day.

In my job, and in yours, I know, it is easy to get bogged down in the obligations and troubles of each day. The point of this blog today is to help remind everyone of what you are a part: an American success story, built in fewer than 100 years by people like yourself, people who love aviation!

By Michael France, NATA Director o f Regulatory Affairs
Visit or return to www.nata.aero.

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