Frustrated by a Congress that doesn’t understand your issues?
Those of us who work or play in general aviation (GA) have specialized knowledge that most folks don’t possess. The average person who is not part of our world knows very little about aviation other than baggage fees, TSA lines, and which airlines serve the best snacks.
Our industry is comprised of experts working every day out in the field. You operate, fix, and fly helicopters—or you offer products and services to support those who do. If anybody understands how our industry works or how we contribute to our communities, it’s you, the person working every day to make it happen.
I spend my days working with government staffers, providing information on our industry that relates to the many policy issues our lawmakers are working on. As a resource, I am only as valuable as my information. The data and insights I provide need to be straightforward and honest. The minute you start spinning that information—shaving a little truth here, telling alternative facts there—that is when you become known as a peddler of one-sided goods that don’t stand up to scrutiny. If you want to be trusted, you must dependably provide the good with the ugly.
At times, it may appear that more words than actions roll off the Hill and that Congress is not focused on issues important to you or your community. It also may seem that our representatives don’t have all the details or have all the wrong details. While we can all tell some fun jokes at Congress’s expense, seeing our elected representatives only through that lens is shortsighted and unproductive.
Until we have a Congress drawn exclusively from the helicopter industry, our elected officials will need reliable data that tells the entire story. As the experts in that field, we need to help them understand what we do and why we do it that way.
I’m not talking about providing confidential or proprietary company data. I’m talking about sharing something even more important: your impact on your community. This includes more than your contributions to the tax base and your payroll. What about the missions you fly? How many homes did you save in the recent fire season? How many lives have you influenced for the better?
As your trade association, HAI advocates for your interests before legislators and regulators. We file comments on proposed regulations, and we regularly bring stakeholders together to craft consensus around common-sense policies that serve the greater good. But how involved are you in government and community outreach, either personally or for your company?
As you come out of winter hibernation, you may not be thinking of August just yet. But it’s right around the corner. Congress is in recess for the entire month, and all of the representatives will be back home in their districts to reconnect with constituents. Now is the perfect time to begin a relationship or strengthen an existing one. Reach out and invite your representative for a tour of your operations. (Let me know at [email protected] if you do; I can share some tips to help you plan the visit.)
If you are reading ROTOR, you are probably a big fan of the helicopter industry. Don’t be afraid to share the good news about all that we do—with friends and neighbors, local schools, and your elected government officials. Don’t assume that they know your struggles and triumphs. Tell them about it!