Archive for March, 2009

A Trip to Oshkosh

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

During the past week, I had a chance to fulfill a commitment I made during my transition into AOPA…I’d promised Tom Poberezny that I would come to Oshkosh. 

It was a pleasure to spend some time with not one, but two members of a legendary GA family. I flew to Oshkosh, Wis., for a meeting with Tom Poberezney, chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and his father and past chairman, president, and founder Paul Poberezny, who retired earlier this year.

I have been lucky enough to visit Oshkosh during AirVenture before, but this was my first trip away from the crowds. As much as I love that exciting airshow environment, it was wonderful to experience the museum and see the sights on a quiet morning, and I highly recommend it if you have the chance.

Strolling around the museum collection, with its more than 200 aircraft, was like traveling through time, making stops at key moments in general aviation history…like joining Tom in the cockpit of the B-17! And seeing the grounds, emptied of the throngs of people and aircraft that take part in AirVenture each summer, I realized what an enormous undertaking that event is. It’s hard to imagine that EAA began in Paul Poberezney’s basement in 1953, and started with only 36 members. But most great enterprises come from humble beginnings, as AOPA did 70 years ago.

Talking with Tom, Paul and the EAA leadership team, we all could see opportunities for our two organizations to cooperate and collaborate.  Tom suggested and I agreed that an important next step is to return to Oshkosh with some of our AOPA leadership team and look at ways we can work together. Key members of our two organizations will be getting together in the near future to explore those opportunities and more, and I for one can’t wait to see all that we can achieve together.

And of course planning is well under way for EAA Air Venture, July 27 through Aug. 2. I’ll be there, and so will AOPA’s Big Yellow Tent. I hope you’ll join us and be part of the excitement at one of general aviation’s premier events.

An Important Budget Story from Washington

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Our current user fee threat comes from the budget proposals made by the Obama Administration.  The summary documents suggest the new Administration wants to, as a matter of policy, reduce the general fund contribution for aviation and increase the reliance on user charges in future years.  The revenue number suggested is over $7 billion a year!

In Washington, a debate over budget strategy is developing that could be crucial.  If the Obama Administration elects to use the budget reconciliation process, their user fee approach could be enacted into law. 

We have strong bipartisian opposition in Congress to the imposition of user fees on general aviaiton; but, this budget battle has us very concerned and on heightened alert.

A story today in a Washington, DC publication called POLITICO frames the debate.  CLICK HERE to read it in full.

Here are a few important excerpts:

The spat over budget reconciliation is unfolding just as Obama is trying to sell his budget to Democrats on Capitol Hill, who plan to kick off the debate this week. Biden lunches with Senate Democrats on Tuesday, followed by Obama’s return to a Senate Democratic lunch Wednesday in the ornate Mansfield Room just off the Senate floor.

That same day, the Senate and House budget committees each plan to begin marking up their respective budget resolutions, which set overall spending levels across the federal government. In the blueprints, Congress can include “reconciliation” instructions directing legislative committees to make changes in current law to reach a specified level of budgetary savings — giving the authorizing panels complete discretion over how to reach the specified spending cuts or revenue increases in the instructions.

A Day at the Beach

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

The first Spring weekend delivered spectacular weather to us here in the Maryland and Delaware area.  Departing in my Bonanza after a day at the Frederick office for Georgetown, Delaware reminded me just how convenient it can be to avoid our Friday afternoon traffic on the way to the beach.

With a clear Saturday morning, Karen and I headed for Georgetown (KGED) a flight at about 2,000 feet around the beach community we have been part of since 1992.  The restaurant had a fine group of families and aviation enthusiasts who had flown in for breakfast.  Actually, Georgetown has a really good restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner right at the airport with a clear view of the ramp and active runway.

Our “tour” reminded us just how much we enjoy this area. 

Seemed like activity had really picked up at KGED.  It was good to see some friends and meet some new folks at the airport!  All seemed to be enjoying the first Spring day!

Now, it is time to dive into the emails that built up during the week.

Ready for fun in the sun

Friday, March 20th, 2009

With so much going on in Congress at the moment, I enjoyed a refreshing break yesterday, getting back to the heart of general aviation with a visit to Lakeland, Fla., and a meeting with Sun ’n Fun head John Burton.

 

Traveling around the airport and meeting with volunteers who are already on site helping to organize next month’s show reminded me of the truths that underlie general aviation.  We are, at our core, a community, with a shared passion for the freedom and efficiency that make GA a unique form of transportation and recreation.

 

Visiting the site of Sun ’n Fun at Lakeland Airport renewed my excitement for seeing AOPA’s “Big Yellow Tent”, and showing our “Let’s Go Flying” Sweepstakes Cirrus to the thousands of pilots and enthusiasts who will attend the show.

 

For myself, I look forward to the opportunity to meet so many AOPA members all in one place, and  to give you the inside scoop on AOPA’s work on your behalf when I host AOPA’s Town Hall gathering on Thursday, April 23. With user fees back on the table and security issues looming we’ve got a lot to talk about.

On the other hand, where better to set aside our worries for a little while than at a wonderful general aviation event like Sun ’n Fun. It promises to be a great week! I hope you’ll come early and stay to take in all the excitement, especially AOPA Day on Friday, April 24, when our members get a discount on admission.  I’ll be at the show and around the tent, so be sure to stop by and say hello.

 

If you haven’t already made your plans to join AOPA at Sun ’n Fun, visit the Web site ( http://www.sun-n-fun.org/ ) for all the information you’ll need to make that special trip.

 

 

 

User Fees — The Threat is Back

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

With the Congress now in Washington full time, I have spent the past few weeks in large part on Capitol Hill.  The good news is that I have found after many meetings we have strong support from Democrats and Republicans in Congress for general aviation.  But, there are serious challenges.  I hope you are following developments at www.AOPA.org because we provide the latest news there every day as it breaks.

Just a couple of weeks ago, President Obama released a summary of the budget he will send to Congress next month.  The budget revealed a preference for user charges to fund the FAA and a desire to greatly reduce funds drawn from the general fund.  We spoke out immediately to express our opposition.  Even more important, Congressman Oberstar and Congressman Costello also released statements opposing user fees.

Suffice it to say, we are gearing up for a fight because any proposal by the Obama Administration must be taken seriously, even with opposition from key members of Congress.  The full details of the budget will be released early next month.

We will talk more with all of our members about this challenge and our plans to counter any additional threats to general aviation.  Just know that this situation and a necessary campaign for general aviation are the focus of considerable attention at AOPA!