by Charlie Haubrich
Charlie Haubrich is the retired President & CEO of QEI Corporation, a flight instructor, and a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight East.
New Jersey may seem like a world away from rural Wisconsin, but throughout my business life, sometimes that’s exactly where I needed to be by the end of the day.
My former employer, QEI Corporation, designs and manufactures high power radio frequency (RF) equipment for the scientific, medical, laser and broadcast industries. Our broadcasting equipment was sold all over the US and Canada, primarily to small and mid sized radio stations.
We knew we’d have to use general aviation to service our customers because most small and mid-sized radio stations are simply not near an airport served by the commercial airlines.
Carrying bulky, delicate test equipment and spare parts is very difficult on the airlines. We saved many overnight stays and car rentals by flying our own propeller driven plane directly to one of the thousands of small airports in the US, close to our customer’s location.
Having our own plane didn’t just help us transport equipment, but also sell our products. We often gave presentations as far away as Milwaukee. Using general aviation, I could give an early morning presentation in Milwaukee and be pretty much anywhere east of the Mississippi by the late afternoon.
This would not be possible on commercial flights – even when they are on time.
General aviation was such a critical tool for our business that we decided to build a manufacturing plant next to the Cross Keys Airport near Williamstown. Many businesses look to locate near general aviation airports.
This brings jobs and economic growth to the airport’s community. In New Jersey, general aviation airports contribute $1.7 billion to the state’s economy and sustain over 18,000 local jobs.
In addition to supporting our economy, general aviation supports healthcare, emergency services, forest fire fighting and law enforcement. In New Jersey, aerial application supports our cranberry and blueberry crops, as well as mosquito and gypsy moth control. General aviation helicopters airlift patients from accidents for life-saving treatment.
As a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight East, I have seen firsthand how critical general aviation is to medical care. The Angel Flight network connects patients in need with volunteer pilots who provide free transportation to distant medical centers for specialty treatment.
On a recent mission, I flew a 13-month old child with a cardiac birth defect and her mother from Virginia to Children’s Hospital in Boston. There, a cardiac specialist was able to provide treatment that the little girl couldn’t receive near home. Between the expense and the child’s oxygen tank, flying a commercial airline was not an option for these parents.
Some lawmakers in DC don’t realize the importance of general aviation to our state. For example, a recent proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives includes a provision to privatize our air traffic control system, which is the best in the world and handles the most traffic. Imagine, our entire air traffic control system, no longer under the authority of Congress, but overseen by a private industry board.
This all may sound like a great idea on K Street, but I can assure you that it doesn’t work on Main Street, New Jersey. Let’s urge our leaders to stand against this risky proposal and protect communities and businesses of all sizes.
Original article can be found here: http://njtoday.net