Arizona Legislature Holds Second GA Caucus at State Capitol!
By Stefanie Spencer
Thanks to committed aviators like Noel Campbell and Todd Clodfelter, Arizona has joined the growing number of state legislatures that are forming successful General Aviation Caucuses this year. This week marked the second meeting of the Arizona Caucus, which was held in the State House building and organized by Co-Chair Todd Clodfelter. Your Arizona Pilots Association provided lunch for the more than 50 attendees and enjoyed an opportunity as a main presenter, along with NBAA’s Ed Bolen. Mark Spencer represented us while Jeffrey Ioreo represented our partners in the AZ backcountry, the RAF. With the latest round of the Tuweep struggle beginning the same day at the capitol, we chose backcountry partnerships as a primary subject, while also touching on APA’s incredibly important scholarship program.
By all accounts the meeting was a huge success, AOPA’s Melissa McCaffrey and NBAA’s Stacy Howard were present, and one of our all time favorite APA members and early presidents, Arv Schultz, showed up with his cheerful personality. It was almost like homecoming! Just as important, if not more important, multiple state legislators attended. Among their ranks, Representatives Becky Nutt, Drew John, and Travis Grantham. Majority Leader John Allen, majority whip Kelly Townsend, and senator Kavanaugh.
After introductions, Mark was given the floor and started his presentation with a video, produced by member Mike Wilson, highlighting our partnerships at the Double Circle Ranch and Grapevine airstrip. While well known within the backcountry circles, our successes in reopening airstrips in Arizona is just not common knowledge across GA. The video left people excited and saying, “I didn’t know anyone was opening airstrips these days.” Mark emphasized that backcountry flying means front country revenue to the many municipal airport folks in attendance. Relationships were struck between many at the meeting, and we are already beginning to receive emails and calls from folks like the state parks people.
Representative Clodfelter made a call for sub-committee members and chairpersons, and discussed the frequency of upcoming caucus meetings. Looks like they’ll be quarterly, and by the way, please contact your state legislator and ask if they are a member of the caucus! If you’d ever like to attend yourself, these are not closed meetings, just give us a shout and we’ll give you the details.
We are all fortunate to have a house member like Todd Clodfelter, an aviator with two experimental aircraft projects ongoing, but more importantly, a fire in his belly for GA and a natural statesman.
Todd ran 3 campaigns before getting elected, and you’ll probably find Todd’s photo beside the word tenacity in the dictionary. If you are a resident of District 10, eastern Tucson, you also have a representative that will not be sleeping on the job, quite the contrary, Todd is one of the busiest members of the house and making things happen!
From here Mark, Jeffrey, and I headed over to the Senate Majority Caucus room to meet and discuss the Tuweep situation. More to follow on this in Mark’s article.
You can check out the presentation video at: https://youtu.be/BPpOcMnEscE
I would like to thank all of the volunteers and attendees that came out to enjoy the Copperstate Fly-In weekend for the first time at Falcon Field in Mesa. The booth was filled almost non-stop with pilots from near and far, with many questions about what we are accomplishing at Grapevine and the other airstrips here in Arizona. It is always a great time to share the stories of what is happening around Arizona. There was interest in our weekend getaway trips, merchandise, and of course our free custom luggage tags were a hit. Particularly encouraging at this year’s Copperstate was the number of younger pilots, I mean below 20 years old, that came by to visit with us.
The forums in the tents were also packed! Dave Dunteman presented “How to Avoid Tragedy by Combating Complacency,” Mark presented “Backcountry Tips, Tricks, and Destinations,” and our guest, Matthew Huse, the new Aviation Officer for the Tonto, brought the largest crowd we’ve seen yet with his presentation on “Fire Operations & Aviation.” No doubt this is the beginning of a long and cooperative partnership with Matt and his team. CC Pocock is also back in AZ, looking for a permanent residence, and was able to provide two backcountry techniques forums, spurring a good number of book sales, for which he donates part of the proceeds from each book to support the APA. Thanks CC!
Our new line of clothing, sporting our new home grown artwork and developed by our own Michelle Schober, brought many compliments. While clothing is not a revenue center for the APA, it is an important part of getting the word out. We are always surprised by the number of folks that visit with us at these shows saying, “I didn’t know there was an Arizona Pilot’s Association!” The take away here is that we should wear our colors (shirts and caps) whenever we are around other aviators! Mark has always said, if each of us would just encourage one other aviator to join the APA this week, we’d double our size in a week. Perhaps your APA clothing might spur that conversation.