She says she fell in love with flying after a cockpit visit aged seven. Now, managing regulatory affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association makes Norway-born Kristine Hartzell a top advocate for general aviation
Where were you born and educated?
I was born in Norway, but raised in the United States. I fell in love with flying on a trip to Norway when I was seven years old. I was invited into the cockpit in-flight, fell in love with the scene before me and decided right then that I wanted to be a pilot when I grew up. I attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, where I earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical science and flight certificates through commercial, multi-engine, certificated flight instructor and certificated flight instructor, instrument.
Where have you worked?
I was a flight instructor for several years after college before being hired at Atlantic Coast Airlines, a regional carrier for United, where I served as a pilot and check airman in the Jetstream 32, CRJ and an Airbus A319 when ACA split from United to becomeIndependence Air. After Independence Air folded, I flew the proving runs for Compass Airlines as they obtained their 121 air carrier certificate, and then served as chief pilot for a charter operator during their certification for large jets and worldwide operations.
Hartzell: GA is an integral part of the world's transportation system
What do you do at AOPA?
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association regulatory affairs team interacts primarily with the FAA and other associations and industry groups. However, we work closely with our legislative affairs department in Washington DC on regulatory issues that have congressional interest.
Is the value of GA respected by policy makers?
General aviation is an integral part of the world's transportation system, and contributes more than $150 billion to the US economy annually and employs more than 1.27 million people. GA also provides the initial pilot training required to staff the nation's air carriers.
What makes the transition from leaded avgas so important?
The issue of leaded/unleaded avgas is a big issue for the entire industry. GA supports the system of airports, aviation services, airmen training and the economy, and a large portion of GA is powered by 100LL avgas. As an illustration of how crucial these aircraft are, in Alaska many communities are wholly dependent upon piston aircraft for long parts of the year for all of the supplies required to survive, like heating fuel, food and medicines.
Has the user fee issue been eclipsed?
The battle against user fees is still a big issue for general aviation. Although the idea of implementing new user fees was dropped from the last presidential budget, it has been raised again in recent discussions regarding ways to reduce the federal deficit. There is already an efficient, cost-effective way for GA operators to pay at the pump, and it goes directly into the trust fund. If user fees were implemented it would add yet another level of bureaucracy in the collection of the new fee and, more importantly, it would compromise aviation safety. Pilots will be reluctant to use air traffic control or instrument approaches due to the cost of using such services under a user fee system.
What's your favourite part of the job?
I have several favourite parts of this job. At the top of my list is that, through this job, I have been able to meet and work with an exceptionally passionate and knowledgeable group individuals dedicated to preserving the freedom to fly. General aviation represents the passionate side of aviation, where people mostly fly for the sheer love of it. I feel honoured to advocate on behalf of these aircraft owners and pilots alongside such an upstanding group of people.