On Thursday, September 12, 2013, NBAA held its Chicago/Waukegan Regional Forum at Waukegan Regional Airport (UGN), located about one hour north of Chicago. Meridian made a strong showing at the event with a team of five to represent the company at the exhibit booth. Meridian gave away its signature t-shirts in the colors of the Chicago Bears to guests who stopped by the booth. The company also held a raffle for a free weekend rental of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and gift bag, compliments of Woodstock Harley-Davidson. Congratulations to the winner, Jay Doig, Assistant General Manager at B. Coleman Aviation in Gary, IN.
As NBAA states on its website, the value of business aviation in supporting jobs, economic activity and local investment in the Chicagoland area was highlighted by the strong turnout and high level of enthusiasm among attendees and exhibitors. The event was held in the Landmark Aviation hangar at UGN, which featured more than 80 exhibitors, 14 aircraft on static display and more than 1,000 attendees from the business aviation community.
Mayor Wayne Motley of Waukegan, who spoke at the event’s opening session, underscored his support for business aviation, and pointed out the direct benefit the industry’s presence has for all citizens in the local area. “This airport community is a gateway to our local community,” the mayor declared. He was joined in addressing forum attendees by Waukegan Port District Chairman Jorge Torres.
The two local officials and the opening session Attendees heard from Dick Doubrava, NBAA’s director of legislative affairs, who provided a report about the Association’s ongoing work to represent their interests in Washington.
In his remarks, Doubrava told the audience that much progress had been made in recent years to promote and grow the House and Senate General Aviation (GA) Caucuses, which are bipartisan groups of congressional lawmakers who bring their support for GA to debates about policy proposals affecting the industry. “Only four years ago, there were no congressional GA caucuses,” Doubrava noted. “Today, we have over 200 caucus members, including one-third of the Senate.”
Doubrava added that NBAA and other GA organizations have continually worked to inform the caucus members about the value of all GA segments, including business aviation, but that NBAA’s work could only be most effective if the people with the Association’s Member Companies directly advocated about the industry’s priorities with elected officials. “You are our best advocates,” Doubrava told those at the event.
At scheduled education sessions, attendees also learned about developing safety management systems, a new “FileSmart” educational initiative to encourage companies to file early and accurate flight plans and various congressional policies of importance to the industry, including the “Pilots’ Bill of Rights,” passed by Congress last year.
The Waukegan event marked NBAA’s final Regional Forum for 2013. The association’s 2014 forums will be held at airports in Florida, California and Texas.