Older Missouri Survey Backs GA Benefits

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A 2004 study of 114 airports in Missouri is being used to support the notion that federal funds are well spent to bolster general aviation -- to the tune of $1.1 billion. The survey was performed by South Carolina-based Wilbur Smith & Associates for the MIssouri Department of Transportation. The big number reflects the sum that small general aviation airports are estimated by the survey to have generated via economic activity within the state. But it also breaks down to smaller, more personal, numbers. These airports, according to the survey, employ roughly 11,000 people, representing $364 million in paying jobs, mostly in smaller communities throughout the state. And the airports may not just keeping jobs, they may be bringing them. Quoted by the Springfield Business Journal, one local pilot stated, "people coming to this town who are going to build factories and bring corporate business ... are not coming in to that airline terminal across the field. They're coming into the GA facility."

And there are signs that some businesses in Missouri couldn't function the way they do without general aviation. "Quite frankly, I couldn't have justified even thinking about owning a plane here in Springfield if it wasn't for the high cost of flying commercial in and out of here," one small business owner told the Journal. Said another, "the reality is that, here in town, general aviation is maxed out."