In Kansas, we take great pride in being at the crossroads of aviation. Nearly a century ago, innovators converged on Wichita with dreams of building airplanes for a budding industry. Pioneers like Kansas son Clyde Cessna helped establish what would soon become the birthplace of many renowned aviation and aerospace companies.
Today, general aviation is the largest industry in Kansas, generating nearly $3 billion in annual exports and producing 35 percent of all general aviation aircraft in America. Kansas aviation workers have supplied 75 percent of all general aviation aircraft since the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk.
For many communities in Kansas, general aviation is the only reliable access to the rest of the country. Unfortunately, in Washington, it is a constant battle to correct the ongoing misconceptions about general aviation. Responsible for emergency medical flights, search and rescue operations, disaster relief, firefighting, forestry, wildlife management and countless other endeavors, general aviation is something from which every American benefits in one way or another. Throughout my time in Congress I have worked to educate my colleagues about the importance of general aviation – particularly in rural regions of the country.
Additionally, Kansas companies export $2.3 billion in aerospace products annually, totaling nearly 20 percent of the state’s total exports. Our state would not be a strong aviation hub if it wasn’t for our highly skilled workforce, a significant component of Wichita’s title as “Air Capital of the World,” with 450 aerospace suppliers based in Wichita alone.
As the lead Republican of the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over NASA, and a seat on both the Commerce Committee and the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, I have the unique opportunity to advocate for and advance our leadership in space through the distinct and multifaceted lens it deserves.
I will continue to do all I can in Congress to improve aviation safety, remove unnecessary regulatory burdens and build awareness for all the good general aviation and aerospace work Kansas does for our economy and society.
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