Archive for October, 2009

Where Engine Out is Not an Option

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

A visit to Tucson this past week meant that I could finally accept the invitation from Phil Kislak to go for a glider flight.

Phil is part of the fine people who make up the Tucson Soaring Club.  The group operates the El Tiro Gliderport and owns all the club buildings and equipment, but leases the land from the BLM.

I enjoyed two flights with Phil on a beautiful day outside of Tucson.

The El Tiro Gliderport is a beautiful field that is actually inside the Ironwood Forest National Monument.  The sites are spectacular aloft and the experience is one I will long remember.  Phil Kislak gave me not only a memorable afternoon of flying, he reminded me of how wide our AOPA’s members’ interests are when it comes to aviation.  I met some great aviators last week who regularly go aloft looking for thermals and never consider where they will land if they lose an engine!

New Message on User Fees: They’ll Be Dead on Arrival

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

There is a remarkable new development occurring around the anticipated aviation User Fee promised by the Obama Administration in next year’s budget proposal.  Leaders in Congress were reported last week to be circulating a letter to The President suggesting the $9 billion User Fee proposal is not wanted nor warranted and would be rejected by Capitol Hill if it is contained within the budget  (SEE STORY).

Even though the Administration’s budget is months away from being sent to Congress next February or March, leaders in Congress know that budget deliberations are underway inside the Administration.  While support for User Fees has long existed inside the Office of Management and Budget, we have reason to believe that others in the Administration have serious reservations wanting instead to focus on the important mission of modernizing our air traffic control system and other priorities.  Looks like there is now a clear signal emerging among key Members of Congress.

Our view: this could not come at a better time!

We will have more to say once the letter with what we understand will be many signatures from a bipartisan group Congressmen is sent to the White House.

Reasons for optimism

Monday, October 5th, 2009

This past week I flew into Pittsfield Municipal Airport to speak to the Massachusetts Airport Management Association (MAMA). The airport is located in beautiful Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and it was a great opportunity to combine business and pleasure as I flew my Bonanza above the early fall foliage and terrific scenery.

Leaves begin to turn in Pittsfield, Mass.

Leaves begin to turn in Pittsfield, Mass.

Massachusetts is home to 37 general aviation airports, and the approximately 100 officials attending the conference serve in roles that are vital to preserving those airports–including positions as airport managers, members of the Massachusetts Aeronautical Commission, and area FAA representatives.

I love getting out and speaking to groups like this one because it gives me a great opportunity to hear about local concerns. While the details differ, the underlying issues are universal–airport encroachment, misguided legislation or taxation efforts, infrastructure needs.

This particular conference had a relaxed, informal atmosphere, and I was pleased by the excitement the audience showed over the General Aviation Serves America campaign–both our early successes and the work that remains ahead of us.

I left this event, as I do so many gatherings, with an acute awareness of the challenges ahead, and a profound optimism that the passion and cooperative spirit of the general aviation community will allow us to overcome any obstacles to ensuring a bright and vibrant future for GA.