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Statement by AIA President & CEO Marion C. Blakey on the death of former Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)
August 10, 2010
Today we mourn the loss of Senator Ted Stevens. The Senator passed while engaged with several of his dearest friends in two of his greatest passions: flying and fishing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were on board the airplane.
A lion of the Senate, Stevens served his Alaskan constituents with distinction for forty years. His numerous contributions to Alaska and the United States on issues as varied as aviation safety, business development, conservation and amateur sports are worthy of great recognition.
A rated pilot, Senator Stevens “flew the hump” in the Burma Theater during World War II. He understood the challenges of flying in Alaska and was responsible for improving aviation safety throughout his beloved state. Stevens championed the FAA’s CAPSTONE project in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. It was the first program in the United States to demonstrate the early benefits of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast – the core technology for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, which reduced the accident rate among participants by more than 40 percent. He also was responsible for the installation of weather cameras in treacherous Alaskan passes and at key remote airports so pilots could supplement weather forecasts with pictures of actual conditions.
The U.S. warfighter had no better ally than Ted Stevens while he was in the Senate. Working together on the Senate Appropriations Committee with his long time friend, Senator Daniel Inouye, Stevens crafted legislation that ensured our armed services were equipped to face any threat. A great American and true patriot, whether wearing his famous Hulk tie on the floor of the Senate or fishing in Alaska with his grandchildren, he will be sorely missed.