Archive for July, 2011

FAA Shutdown Looms

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Yesterday, the Department of Transportation outlined the consequences facing the FAA if Congress failed to extend the FAA’s budget authorization in a news release

Secretary LaHood: “We need our employees at work, and states and airports need to be able to work on construction projects. If Congress cannot resolve its differences, FAA programs and thousands of public and private sector jobs will be in jeopardy.

Congress must pass an extension of the FAA bill now.”

Today, we are learning from senior FAA officials that they are preparing for a shutdown tonight at midnight.  This involves the furloughing of up to 5,000 employees, reducing hours at FAA facilities and putting airport construction projects on hold.

We will monitor these developments and report what we know as more information becomes available.

It Is Time to Tell Your Congressman and Senators Just Say “NO” to GA User Fees

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

After listening carefully to the back and forth on the spending reduction and revenue raising proposals consuming Capitol Hill and knowing that Administration officials put GA user fees back on the table in recent sessions, we decided it is time to let our voices be heard.  It’s different this time because the GA user fee proposals lurk just under the surface, but we cannot take a chance of having a small group of officials get attracted to this bad idea.

You will see a good deal of communication tonight and tomorrow about this subject.  We are currently running a story and special video report that you can find by clicking: http://bit.ly/nvZqS4 .

Everyone in the GA community needs to share their view by calling your Congressman and your US Senators.  This may be a long battle, but our campaign starts today!

Debt Ceiling Negotiations Bring Back User Fee Talk

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

You are not likely to have seen this in the weekend newspapers, but we recently confirmed that in the midst of the budget negotiations to avert the debt ceiling crisis, Administration officials placed on the table a private aircraft user fee proposal for discussion with Congressional leaders.  Details are very sketchy and most reports suggest that no decisions have been made.  However, on the heels of the hot rhetoric several days ago about the use of private aircraft and tax loopholes (that used to be job stimulus initiatives) there is much to worry about in this development.

 

The general aviation community has supported for years the use of added charges on our fuel purchases as a far superior way to raise additional revenue to help pay for modernizing our air traffic control system than user fees.  These charges are made at the pump without the need for a new federal bureaucracy to administer a user fee program that, reportedly, would be imposed on flight operations of GA aircraft.

 

Now, I know some in Congress do not like the fuel charge concept and call it a “tax.”  But, honestly, a fee is no better term if it comes with big bureaucracy that does not go to improving air safety.  What’s the point?  Let’s decide on what works not what sounds good.

 

And, today, the FAA Reauthorization Bill passed by the U.S. Senate contains an increase in the aviation fuel charges that we have supported and that would go right to the FAA.  If you need additional revenue, use this language not a user fee approach denounced by the key committees in Congress and the many members who focus on aviation policy.

 

Aviation User Fees and the big bureaucracy they bring need to COME OFF THE TABLE! 

 

We will be arguing this point forcefully as Congress returns to Washington this coming week telling our supporters that their opposition to user fees before was a good thing and it’s even more important now!  And, when needed, we will alert our hundreds of thousands of members to the return of a very bad idea!

Flying in the Frederick Area – Avoid Intercepts!

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

As I returned to our home base in Frederick, Maryland on a beautiful Saturday evening, I learned that not one but two aircraft had been intercepted for violating the airspace around Camp David.  These actions are costly to our whole community, and so, I have asked our team at AOPA to produce an easy to follow guide that helps all pilots fly through the area.

As troubling as it is to hear about pilots receiving and F-15 escort to an unplanned landing, it is also unfortunate to learn that some pilots do not enjoy the opportunity of flying in our area because they believe it “complicated.”

So, here is my technique:

If you plot a course from Martinsburg VOR (MRB) across to DuPont VOR (DQO), you will have a line running from West to East that keeps you clear of all restricted airspace (and runs over the top of AOPA’s home at KFDK).

On the West side, if you stay West of Hagerstown to the North (HGR) and Linden (LDN) to the South and overfly MRB Eastbound towards DQO, you will not enter the Camp David area even when it expands, and you will stay North of the Special Flight Rule Area around Washington and outside of the Class Bravo areas for Dulles and Baltimore-Washington.

Over on the East side, you have Philadelphia to the Northeast, but along the route from MRB, go past Westminster (EMI) towards DQO….you can go as far as BAINS intersection before DQO and stay clear of restricted areas.  If headed South, Smyrna (ENO) near Dover, Delaware keeps you well clear of the restricted areas.  And, to the North, I use Lancaster (LRP) and head that direction once past Westminster (EMI).

The key to all of this is the line from MRB to DQO.  Fly it and you will find you can enjoy our area with considerable peace of mind! Follow the link below to see a map of the route that will help you stay safely out of restricted airspace.

Click here for current chart:  Flying FDK area

And, if you do fly the area and have suggestions of your own, share them.  Our AOPA team will be producing the best of the best ideas for publication soon.

A Remarkable Fly-In

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Every other year, Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO) organizes the Wing Nuts Flying Circus at the Gould Peterson Municipal Airport in Tarkio, Missouri.  The event is a gathering of hundreds of enthusiastic aviators.  It all started yesterday (Friday) with a barbecue dinner and then the real action began this morning with a pancake breakfast and an airshow.  In between, Congressman Graves moderated a Town Hall gathering where the general aviation association presidents  provided a wide ranging briefing on issues we face in Washington.

This was my second opportunity to participate in a weekend of activities in Tarkio.  This year, we flew a group into Tarkio on the AOPA Cessna Caravan.  We received professional handling by the AirBoss and a friendly greeting by the line crew who were handling an interesting stream of arriving aircraft.

All of us in general aviation are fortunate to have someone in Congress who serves his constituents while at the same time co-chairing the General Aviation Caucus in the House of Representatives.  And, that’s what he does in Washington!  This weekend, he shared his passion for aviation with the hundreds who made their way to Tarkio, Missouri.  It was great to be part of the festivities!

Celebrate Our Freedom to Fly on the Fourth of July

Friday, July 1st, 2011

I hope all our AOPA members and fellow aviation enthusiasts enjoy some aspect of flying on this Fourth of July weekend.

If you need encouragement, I hope you find it in this remarkable photography by our good friends at PILOT GETAWAYS.  George Kounis shot the picture while brother John Kounis flew the aircraft.  And, their spectacular “target” was a beautiful Aviat Husky A 1-C flown by another good friend, Stu Horn.  I was among those fortunate enough to be on the ground at Ryan Field and shot a picture of these fine aviators at work.

We all found ourselves in one of the most enchanted airstrips around, Ryan Field.  The airstrip, built by Ben and Butchie Ryan next to their home, sits at the entrance to Glacier National Park and it is, as you can see, nothing short of a national treasure.  The fact that we can fly there is due to the tireless efforts of the Recreational Aviation Foundation.  It was their annual fly in at Ryan field that brought us together.

In whatever way you can, celebrate our freedom to fly and enjoy the company of great friends and fellow aviators this weekend.

To one and all, a safe and happy Fourth of July.