Archive for September, 2011

User fees petition gains momentum

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Yesterday I told you about the great idea one of our members in Iowa had. He filed a petition asking the White House to take aviation user fees off the table. His effort is gaining momentum with almost 2,500 signatures at my last check. He’s halfway there–it takes 5,000 signatures before White House senior officials will consider the petition. I encourage you to read it and sign on. Let’s show our elected officials that general aviation matters and we’re willing to take action to protect our freedom to fly.

Do your part to get user fees off the table

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Want to get rid of user fees? This could be your chance. The White House has launched a system that lets anyone create a petition. If more than 5,000 people sign it within 30 days, that petition, we are told, will be considered by senior White House staff.

One of our members in Iowa heard about this system and jumped at the chance. He started a petition to take user fees off the table. Needless to say, I couldn’t agree more. 

Make your opinion count. Sign on to the petition started by your fellow AOPA member.  It may take 5,000 people to get noticed—but what will happen if 500,000 pilots sign on? Let’s find out!

TBMs as far as the eye can see

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Today I was in Colorado Springs for the eighth annual meeting of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association. More than 250 people, including more than 80 TBM owners, took part. The airport was a beautiful site, with more than 80 TBMs lining the ramp and Andrew Knott, executive director of TBMOPA, was a gracious host.

Talking to TBM owners at the annual TBMOPA convention.

This is a very astute and involved group of pilots, and they were deeply interested in the challenges that will continue to face general aviation through this fall’s budget debate and beyond. User fees, concerns over the future of air traffic control, and the need to grow the pilot population were top of mind. These pilots understand, as we all must, the importance of continued vigilance and innovation if we are going to protect our freedom to fly in the face of these challenges.

But there’s also a lot of enthusiasm and excitement among these owners—enthusiasm for the airplanes they love, excitement for the many ways aircraft ownership has enhanced their personal and professional lives, and, perhaps most important, hope for the future.

And perhaps that’s one of the most important things I take from every gathering of pilots I am fortunate enough to attend. Even as we struggle through the challenges that face the general aviation community, we shouldn’t forget that aviation is a joyful pursuit and we are fortunate to be a part of it.

TBMs as far as the eye can see.

South Dakota rallies GA

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

For a rural state like South Dakota, general aviation means successful farming, business growth, and access to the wider world. Today, Senator John Thune and Governor Dennis Daugaard took time out to recognize the value of general aviation in their home state—and I was pleased to be a part of this exciting Rally GA event.

From left to right: Ed Bolen, NBAA; Jim Cuhady, International Council of Air Shows; Craig Fuller, AOPA; Gov. Dennis Daugaard; Jim Peitz, Mustang Aviation; Sen. John Thune; Pete Bunce, GAMA; Rod Hightower, EAA; and Jim Coyne, NATA.

GA has played an important role in the South Dakota economy for a century—a milestone Governor Daugaard recognized earlier this year when he proclaimed June to be “General Aviation Appreciation Month” in his state. And now, more than ever, GA is an important stimulus in South Dakota.

I was lucky to have the chance to speak to South Dakota pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and voters at large at this Rally GA event. Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, served as emcee and Jim Peitz, president of Mustang Aviation, served as our gracious host. In addition to the governor and senator we were joined by Rod Hightower of EAA and Jim Coyne of NATA, Ed Bolen of NBAA and John Cuhady of the International Council of Air Shows.

Events like these are so important because they bring together elected leaders and voters to talk about what general aviation means to real people—whether they fly or not. So often, the economic impact of general aviation is invisible to those outside of the flying community. I’m betting that before today many of the people in the audience had no idea that Mustang Aviation in Pierre conducts 24,000 operations every year, or that those operations have a direct and indirect economic impact worth $58 million to the community.

Talking to pilots at today's Rally GA event.

Fortunately for the residents of South Dakota, their representatives understand just how important GA is to their state. I think Gov. Daugaard put it best today when he said, “Our economy and our safety would be compromised if not for general aviation.”

Hear, Hear!