Nebraska is sometimes referred to as "The 500 Mile State" because it's about 500 miles from east to west borders. Our land area total is about 77,000 square miles making us 16th in the nation in total land mass.
In a large rural state like Nebraska, if it wasn't for general aviation and the small prop driven planes many people use to get around it would make it difficult for many businesses to thrive, search and rescue operations to be carried out, hunters to get to remote areas, public officials to meet with constituents and many others who need to travel long distances quickly.
I got thinking about this at a recent rally in Lincoln for general aviation attended by electrical engineers, fuel suppliers, mechanics, and other Nebraskans who are involved in this vital industry.
Small Airports Dot the State
There are dozens of public use small airports that can accommodate small planes that span the state from Cozad to Columbus, from South Sioux City to Sidney, from Beatrice to Burwell. They literally run the length of the alphabet beginning with Albion and continuing through to York, and we're better off because we have them.
General aviation is a critical component in Nebraska's infrastructure -- and general aviation is an irreplaceable part of Nebraska's economic machinery.
Our state wouldn't have much of an economy without general aviation. It keeps people and goods moving. It enables trade and communication -- both essential to economic growth. It keeps commerce flowing and empowers new business.
Economic Boost from Air Services
I have seen first-hand how aviation encourages investment and creates opportunities for economic growth -- all across our state.
General aviation provides both urban and rural Nebraska communities with much-needed tax revenue and jobs. General aviation helps Nebraska's businesses grow and remain competitive, and it helps attract new businesses to our state.
Access to general aviation is very important to companies determining where to locate their Nebraska operations. Air services are necessary for growth sectors - on which Nebraska's future economic success will depend -- like high-tech companies and financial services.
Aviation stimulates Nebraska's Gross Domestic Product, and directly contributes to it, too. Last year, general aviation contributed more than 721 million dollars to Nebraska's economy -- that's nothing to laugh at.
General aviation supports the employment of tens of thousands of Nebraskans, and directly employs around twelve hundred Nebraskans -- in manufacturing alone! It just cements the fact that general aviation is inseparable from Nebraska's economic health and vitality.
This is why my commitment to Nebraska aviation has been unwavering. It is essential to keep Nebraska's general aviation, manufacturing, and operating community strong. Keeping general aviation strong keeps Nebraska strong.
Planes on the plains are essential to Nebraska's economy, now and in the future.