Getting Involved, Learning Surroundings

In the airport world in Massachusetts I actively participated in the Massachusetts Airport Management Association (MAMA), which represented the interests of the airports and all of aviation in Massachusetts. Working with MAMA helped to introduce me to many of the key players who were important for the airports where I worked over the past years.

Now that I’ve moved down to Florida and am a member of the airport management world down here, the Florida Airports Council is a similar organization doing yeoman’s work to protect and advance aviation in Florida. As a result of the climate and size of the state, there are a lot more airports (and seaplane bases) and there is a lot more flying here in Florida. As a result, the Florida Airports Council (FAC) is much larger than MAMA…

My first introduction to FAC came earlier this month when I attended the annual State Summit in Tallahassee, the state’s capital. The Summit, was similar to the MAMA “On The Hill Day” I have written about in this space previously. As a result of the increased size of FAC and the number of elected officials to reach, the FAC State Summit is a three-day event. The Summit is held in the state capital, just as “On The Hill Day” was, as a means of being close to the elected officials, in their space. For me this trip to Tallahassee was as much about getting involved with FAC as it was learning more about my new home, the state of Florida. Where better to do that than the State’s capital city?

The current State Capitol Building, 22 floors tall, with the prior Capitol Building, now State of Florida museum in the foreground.

The current State Capitol Building, 22 floors tall, with the prior Capitol Building, now a State of Florida museum, in the foreground.

I can honestly say that I really enjoyed my first FAC Summit. The Wednesday evening reception was a great way for me to meet some of the other dedicated people in the “Florida airports world”. There were a number of interesting people and a lot of dedicated, hardworking aviation folks who I got to know.

The Thursday was the main day of the event and it was action-packed. The day started with a 7am breakfast with legislators. A number of state representatives and senators came to speak to our group, all of which were bullish on aviation and very supportive to the collective interests of our organization. Admittedly, I am still learning the current state of the Florida aviation community and what the needs really are… That said, it was amazing to see the great turnout of legislators, all of who are passionate about aviation, tourism and transportation.

After the breakfast there was a membership meeting, which included a presentation from a collection of airlines, all working together on a new tax structure for jet fuel. The group included multiple airlines, it was interesting to see the likes of American and Delta standing together along with Southwest, all saying the same thing…

After those meetings there was a General Aviation Caucus meeting in the State Capitol building on the 22nd floor concourse, which offers a truly incredible view of Tallahassee. Another group of legislators all showed their support for aviation causes throughout Florida, it is always motivational to spend time with so many like-minded pro-aviation professionals.

Following the caucus meeting and visiting the offices of some of our elected officials, I toured the old state capitol building, located at the foot of the current building. I learned a great deal about the State of Florida and how it became what it is today… Then I walked a mile or so down the hill, and subsequently back up the hill, to visit the Florida Department of Transportation Aviation and Spaceport Division Office. The staff at the FDOT office was very welcoming and is a great team, a very supportive group who I look forward to working more with in the future.

Later in the day there was a corporate committee meeting and a board meeting, again full of interesting topics to chart the course for the organization over the coming months. That evening had another reception where I was able to meet and get to know more Florida-based aviation professionals. This networking to me is one of the biggest true values of these events. It is always interesting to hear what is happening at other airports, you never know when you’ll face similar situations and then have someone to call because you know they went through it once too…

Friday included a light breakfast and FDOT training related to renewable energy as a source of income for airports. I did not attend this session as I had seen the presentation at a previous MAMA Conference and have done a fair amount of research on the topic while I was up at the New Bedford Regional Airport in Massachusetts.

My first Florida Airports Council experience was certainly positive and I look forward to my next opportunity to attend an FAC event. The group seems very driven and I’m certainly happy they are out their working for all of the Florida airports and seaplane bases!

-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9

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