NBAA2009 News Bureau Articles

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Palmer, Buffenbarger Champion the Value of Business Aviation to Citizens, Companies, Communities

Ed Bolen welcomes Arnold Palmer to the stageOctober 20, 2009, Orlando, FL – Arnold Palmer – the legendary golfer, businessman and industry supporter – kicked off the Opening General Session of NBAA's 62nd Annual Meeting & Convention this morning with a spirited defense of business aviation.

Having owned a dozen airplanes in his 52 years of flying, Palmer said he was upset when he heard about business aviation being mischaracterized and maligned. "Aviation is part of my life. Aircraft gave me a competitive edge in golf and business. I can't tell you how much it [flying] has meant to me."

Business aviation helped Palmer compete more effectively as a professional golfer and grow his business by providing efficient travel from his hometown of Latrobe, PA (population less than 10,000), which doesn't have airline service.

Speaking about the use of business aviation today, Palmer declared, "It doesn't make sense not to use business aircraft in a tough economy. You must use the necessary tools to do the job. Without an airplane, I wouldn't be here."

The crowds at the Opening General SessionAs a way of increasing his support for the industry, Palmer recently joined the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign by appearing in several new print and TV ads. "Business aviation is one of the great American industries," continued Palmer. "I hope you will do all you can to support the [No Plane No Gain] program. Let's [go on the] offensive and tell the world the positive things we do [with our airplanes]."

Also speaking at the Opening General Session this morning was Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the union that represents business aviation manufacturing workers. Like Palmer, Bufferbarger stated that he was proud of his involvement in business aviation.

Buffenbarger's union operates a Learjet 60 to be more efficient and productive. The aircraft has flown to every U.S. state, Canadian province and 25 countries. Buffenbarger says the airplane is needed because he is on the road 250 days a year, visiting five states on Labor Day alone, a trip he could not have made on the airlines.

Buffenbarger said that in normal times, labor and management are adversaries, "but these are not normal times. In this grave recession, survival is a stake," he declared, noting that 30,000 of his union's members are unemployed.

Twice in recent months Buffenbarger has had an opportunity to ask President Obama directly about coming to Wichita, KS, a major source of business aviation manufacturing, to see the "man-made devastation" caused by the negative rhetoric regarding business aviation."The President owes us a visit," declared Buffenbarger, who urged Convention Attendees to call the White House to express that sentiment.

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