When President Obama said in his State of the Union address that America needs to out-build and out-innovate the rest of the world, he must have had in mind the example of our extraordinary general aviation industry.
And today I had the great pleasure of meeting with several thousand general aviation workers in Wichita, Kansas, including folks from Learjet, Beechcraft, Bombardier, and Cessna.
I've traveled all across the U.S., and I have rarely been so warmly welcomed. These are proud American workers, and they have good reason to be proud. General aviation is a big driver of economic opportunity and innovation, supporting 1.2 million jobs across the country and contributing more than $150 billion to our nation’s economy.
And nowhere is that more evident than in Wichita, "air capital of the world." General aviation has put Wichita--and Kansas--back on track for economic recovery. According to Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and General Aviation Manufacturers Association president Jack Pelton, that has something to do with Wichita having, "the best workforce in the world."
Even in a down-cycle, general aviation still generated $4.9 billion in export revenue for the United States in 2010. In fact, two-thirds of Cessna's aircraft orders are international. This makes aviation a critical component in reaching the President’s goal of doubling exports within five years.
The general aviation innovators I met with have an entrepreneurial spirit that matches the pioneers of aviation. And, as the global economy picks up, I’m proud to stand with them, working together to make sure general aviation continues to flourish.
The work they do and the products they make--that's how America will win the future.