John A. Fergione: Knight is the best candidate to serve the 25th Congressional District

Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale)

It has recently come to my attention that our congressman, Steve Knight, is under attack for supposedly not supporting our local aerospace industry.

I thought this might be a joke, but further research confirmed to me that these appalling accusations have actually been published. Without question, they comprise the most inaccurate political attacks I have seen in the recent past.

I am not an expert in many areas, but I do understand aerospace better than many.

I began my career as a U.S. Navy carrier pilot. I left active duty in 1981 after 10 years as a U.S. Navy test pilot instructor and joined the General Dynamics Corporation as a test pilot flying the F-16.

Lockheed Martin purchased the General Dynamics Fort Worth Division in the 1990s and I continued in my capacity as a test pilot with that firm.

Later, I was promoted to the position of chief test pilot for the F-16 program and ended my career with Lockheed Martin in 2003 as a test pilot flying the F-22A. I have been a pilot and test pilot for 37 years.

I currently serve as the air show executive for the Los Angeles County Air Show, chairman of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots Scholarship Foundation, president of the Edwards AFB Civilian-Military Support Group and a director on the Antelope Valley Board of Trade, a position I have held 21 years.

I am a past-president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Antelope Valley Board of Trade.

I have known Steve Knight since I worked for his father, William J. (Pete) Knight, at Edwards AFB in the early 1980s. I can assure you that our country has no greater advocate for aerospace than Steve Knight.

I have worked with Steve in many capacities over the years, and Steve has always fought to not only continue the legacy of aerospace design, manufacturing and testing in Southern California, but to also expand it with new opportunities.

When he was still in the California Senate and the Air Force announced the Long Range Strike Program, Steve immediately began to bring local groups and industry leaders together with the goal of ensuring this important work would be performed in the Antelope Valley.

From these meetings, Steve authored legislation and worked to get it passed to accomplish this goal. His effort in getting that bill passed will create thousands of jobs in our communities.

Now that he is our congressman, he is continuing that same fight with the same effort in Washington, D.C. Steve has introduced multiple bills that will strengthen our aeronautics programs, improve research and development of new technology, and boost the American aviation industry, all of which will help grow our local economy while bolstering our national defense.

As an aviator and a professional in the aerospace realm, I can attest that Steve Knight is our best choice to continue defending and strengthening the legacy of flight in our region.

I was deeply honored in 2014 when Steve asked me to be the chairman of his Military Academies Selection Committee.

My direction from him was to find the best young men and women in his district to enter our military academies.

He also relayed to me that he considered this aspect of his job one of his most important responsibilities. His support of our veterans is unquestioned.

Steve Knight is the best choice to represent us in Washington, D.C.

John A. Fergione is a retired experimental test pilot, retired U.S. Navy carrier pilot and a Lancaster resident.

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