By Penny Rafferty Hamilton

A concept originally considered in 1995 finally came to be as the Colorado General Aviation Alliance (CGAA) held its first organizational meeting Saturday, May 5th. Many leaders of general aviation groups along with enthusiastic individuals met in the Mt. Evans meeting room at the Rocky Mountain Metro Airport-RMAA/BJC.

General aviation industry organizations represented were: Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association (CAAA), Colorado Airport Operators Association (CAOA), Colorado Aviation Business Association (CABA), Colorado Pilots Association (CPA), Metropolitan State College of Denver Department of Aviation & Aerospace Science, Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, and Women in Aviation (WAI)-Denver Chapter. Also, individuals from Colorado Soaring Societies, Balloonists, and fire fighting participated. National representation was from AAAA, Aircraft Maintenance Technology Society, AOPA, NASAO, and NBAA. Many other organizations expressed as interest in participating in CGAA as the organization develops in the future.

(Photo – Many aviation groups were represented at the recent organizational meeting of the Colorado General Aviation Alliance (CGAA) which will provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, information and knowledge within member organizations and promotes the value of GA to the public and elected leaders. Photo by Penny Hamilton)

The importance of this initial meeting was underscored by Henry Ogrodzinski, (shown at right) representing the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) based in Washington, D.C, via speaker phone. “A group as the Colorado General Aviation Alliance provides strength in numbers and knowledge to make a real difference in promoting and preserving aviation. I am so excited to be a part of this important CGAA formation.”

The CGAA steering committee began work 15 months ago on February 22, 2011. Members are Walt Barbo (CPA), Bill Hamilton, (AOPA) and Iver Retrum (CABA). David Gordon, Colorado Director of Aeronautics, and Steve Hadley of NBAA served as advisors.

Steve Hadley, who was also networked to the meeting via telephone, indicated the full support of NBAA. He said, “As an early participant of the CGAA steering committee, I am thrilled this day has arrived for Colorado. This is a proven way to provide positive leadership and information.”

AOPA Representative, Bill Hamilton, provided examples of other proven and successful GA Alliance groups across the nation. A few are the North Dakota Aviation Council, Nebraska Aviation Council, Kentucky Aviation Association, New Jersey Aviation Association, Tennessee Aviation Network, South Carolina Aviation Association, and Idaho Aviation Association. 

Walt Barbo, a long-time leader in Colorado general aviation, explained the past effort to form a similar group in 1995. It was established as an IRS 501-C-3 charitable organization. It proved to be unsuccessful for a number of reasons. The importance of the new CGAA proposed structure as a 501-C-6 non-profit organization with allows for lobbying efforts was explained.

Dave Gordon reviewed the Colorado Aeronautical revenue sources for the statewide airport system. He said, “Knowledge of the funding, purposes of the aviation grants and the economic value of the airport system to Colorado is critical for members of the various General Aviation organizations in the Alliance to be successful in continuing to promote the importance of GA to our state.”

Iver Retrum stated, “CGAA would be a good tool for networking and sharing up-to-date information about issues impacting the aviation business community. It is important that we reach out proactively to our elected leaders and their staff.”

He reviewed the proposed by-laws and provided a detailed “White Paper” on the purposes of CGAA – To promote the safety, preservation and economic growth of General Aviation in the State of Colorado; Educate the public on the significant impact General Aviation contributes to local economies; Provide for the exchange of ideas, information and experiences within General Aviation and with the public; Improve relationships and foster a cohesive effort among individuals and organizations in General Aviation through public education and informational programs; Represent organized General Aviation interests before private and governmental entities.

Selena Shilad, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America (AAAA), which is based in the Washington, D.C. area, participated in this historic meeting. She encouraged the formation of the CGAA. She offered to assist the CGAA leadership.

Those in attendance were unanimous in voting to establish the CGAA. A committee to finalize the details was appointed consisting of the initial steering committee members and Ken Lawson (CAOA), David Ulane (AOPA), and John Wright (CAAA). Dave Gordon, Colorado Aeronautics Director, Steve Hadley (NBAA) and Selena Shilad (AAAA) will serve in advisory roles. CABA intern, Fabien Vivier, volunteered to design a CGAA logo.