I witnessed history today. And it made me feel proud. Of my community and the industry we love so well: aviation.

Sunshine and cheering crowds set the tone for this morning’s rally at Cessna Aircraft sponsored by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). Employees from Cessna, Bombardier Learjet, Hawker Beechcraft, Spirit AeroSystems and countless GA vendor companies made up the bulk of the thousands-strong throng. Our friends from Learjet loaded up seven school buses with more than 350 employees, all wearing Learjet red. Dignitaries were out in abundance, too, from the federal, state and local level.

Rising Up Together

Bombardier Learjet VP and General Manager David Coleal kicked off the morning by reminding us of our unique aviation heritage. Mayor Brewer thanked the aviation community for supporting each other during challenging times. The crowd cheered when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood made it clear that he’d do everything in his power to get President Obama to visit Wichita so he could see for himself manufacturing at its best.

Success for general aviation translates to success for Kansas and the nation. It contributes more than $7 billion a year to our state economy and $150 billion to the nation’s. It supports 17,000 jobs statewide and 1.2 million across the country.

We had much to celebrate this morning. I’m still smiling.