Greg Hilburn THE NEWS STAR
Flying Congressman: Don’t Worry, I Have Parachute
June 20, 2017
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  • Louisiana Congressman Ralph Abraham doesn’t like the uncertainty and inconvenience of commercial air travel.

    So Abraham, R-Alto, occasionally commutes to his Washington, D.C., job on his own plane, a sleek red and white Cirrus SR 20 that can zip through the sky about 165 miles per hour. 

    “It’s very safe …,” said Abraham, smiling, “and it’s got a parachute so if I mess up it’s going to take care of me every day of the week.”

    Pilot error is unlikely for this congressman, who was featured on the cover of the Civil Air Patrol magazine’s spring issue.

    Abraham has more than 3,500 flying hours either on a fixed-wing airplane like his Cirrus or his Eurocopter 120B helicopter.

    He’s a major in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol and a pilot with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, flying search and rescue missions, reconnaissance and transport for active-duty military personnel.

    Abraham is also active with Pilots for Patients, founded in 2008 to provide free transportation to those needing medical treatment. The statewide organization is headquartered in Monroe and includes 120 volunteer pilots from throughout Louisiana and Texas.

    “There’s a certain sense of freedom when you’re flying,” the congressman said.

     Abraham said he still makes most trips to work on commercial flights, but that requires stops in Atlanta, where he often endures delays. 

    “Sometimes it’s more expedient and efficient to go private,” he said.

    With a tailwind the congressman said he can get from Monroe to the Manassas Regional Airport in about 4.5 hours.

    Abraham piloted his Cirrus to D.C. this week with his wife Dianne as a passenger.

    “It gives me a chance to be the constituent who has his ear for a while,” she said, laughing.

    But Dianne said she planned to tune into LSU’s College World Series game when they left Monroe for Washington Monday afternoon.

    “I’m a super fan,” Dianne said. “He can monitor Air Traffic Control while I monitor the baseball game.”

    The flight was fine. The game? Not so much. LSU fell to Oregon State 13-1.

    Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1