Tom Haines

GA and the environment: Your chance to comment

June 26, 2009 by Thomas B. Haines, Editor in Chief

Leaded fuel, noise, threats of “cap and trade” emission limits (carbon offsets, anyone?). It would be easy to believe that the word “environment” is no friend of general aviation. Yet, GA has an important role to play in the environment–whether helping to spot blatant polluters, putting out forest fires, or providing a bird’s-eye view of run-off or insect infestations, general aviation airplanes are at work every day in support of the environment.

The small amount of lead-tainted emissions from our 100LL is really the least of our worries when it comes to avgas. Even the availability of the lead additive is threatened because of low demand and the dangers of producing and handling it. Even if air pollution were not an issue, we would need to be looking for alternative fuels. And much work is under way on that front.

Noise is an issue we’ve faced for years, and we’ve come up with many simple solutions. Going forward as communities further impinge on airports and as neighbors get ever less tolerant of being disturbed, we may need to get even more creative.

When information is presented properly, environmentally sensitive neighbors will often choose an airport in their community over another shopping mall or housing development that invites even more traffic and pollution. Airports, at least, represent open space. And some airports are hard at work reducing their impact on the environment.

To look into the impact that GA has on the environment and vice versa, we put a team of our editors to work on a special report in the July issue of AOPA Pilot. The package looks at ways you can reduce your impact on the environment while flying–in some cases while reducing your operating costs. We profile airports that are looking out for the environment, show GA at work protecting the environment, and look to Europe for some clever designs that may some day further reduce our impact on the environment and maybe even reduce our costs.

Once you’ve had a chance to read the articles, we hope you’ll come back here and share your thoughts and ideas. The environmental movement is not going to stop at the airport perimeter. It will impact our flying in the future. Let’s start a dialog now and gin up some clever ideas that will keep us flying.

Thanks for your sharing your thoughts in the comments section below.

4 Responses to “GA and the environment: Your chance to comment”

  1. Debee Pulley Says:

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DON’T START IMPOSING MORE COSTS ON GENERAL AVIATION. I AM 50 YRS OLD, WANT TO FLY MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THIS WORLD, & ALREADY I’VE HAD TO SIT OUT FOR 2 YRS BECAUSE OF RISING FUEL COSTS AND OTHER COSTS. I lost my job, & had to go bankrupt (which means my chances just diminished), I’m not getting any younger, so the medical exam will be tougher to pass. THIS IS MY DREAM & HAS BEEN SINCE I WAS A LITTLE GIRL. I REALIZE THIS IS A “RICH MANS GAME”……BUT PLEASE PLEASE… NO MORE EXTRA FEES. THIS IS NOT JUST FOR ME, BUT FOR EVERY PERSON OUT THERE WHO WATCHES THE PLANES FLY BY (& THEIR HEART BREAKS A LITTLE) BECAUSE THEY ALREADY CAN’T AFFORD THE TRAINING LESSONS. I’M BEGGING FOR THIS BECAUSE I INTEND TO FLY ONE DAY….one way or another. PLEASE DON’T ADD MORE FEES. I KNOW OBAMA CAN FIND ANOTHER WAY TO FIND MONEY, THAN TO KEEP THE PLANES THAT DO SOOOO MUCH MORE FOR US THAN MOST PEOPLE REALIZE. IT KEEPS ME ALIVE WITH HOPE. THANKS FOR LISTENING

  2. Tuck Colby Says:

    How about accentuating the positive? Blocking unnecessary regulation is not the whole story – you already know this – but let’s highlight the good we do, and show pilots how they can join in if they’re not already involved.

    It’s can be about opportunities to use our skills and airplanes in efforts that benefit us all, require aviation expertise, and provide intense personal satisfaction to the pilots that fly in support of these public benefits.

    Our parks, wildlife, our whole enjoyment of the outdoors benefit from pilots who fly for LightHawk, for instance. These pilots are paying something back to their fellow citizens and also to our grandchildren in their use of the unique perspective of flight to support positive environmental outcomes.

    It’s a kind of flying that’s very different from point to point transportation. It requires a high level of skill from pilots and offers and special rewards. And it’s about affecting the environment and our enjoyment of it in positive ways, not just minimizing adverse consequences of our fuel use.

    And…..it’s fun!

  3. Doug Teeter Says:

    My wife and I have been thinking of getting back into Aviation, we sold our Cessna 340 a few years ago. We were thinking a 182 or a 180HP 172. I toured the local airports and checked gas prices, and talked to a lot of the local pilots. The vibes sure aren’t good. We live in Southern Arizona and the border patrol and Homeland Security think anyone flying an airplane is a drug runner and treat the aircraft owners like they are potential criminals. The Obama plan to redistribute the wealth of the country has given the local and state tax collectors new powers and they swarm the local airports checking tail numbers. FBO operators say the tax people invade their shops asking questions and writing down every tail number. If you have an airplane of any kind you are a rich person and should be taxed. I checked out Tucson Int and found it even more restrictive, a background check is required to get the required ID cards that you have to wear around your neck at all times.
    Fuel prices are another issue, they are on ththe way back up, a few months ago 100LL was $5.61 a gallon here.
    I don’t know what we as pilots can do about all of this. Obama certainly has no love for GA and it is everyone I talked to opinion that some sort of user fees will be passed during his administration. So we are going to hold off buying another airplane for a while longer. We love to fly and flying is jusy another one of the freedoms in this country that are under attack.
    D. Teeter Green Valley, AZ

  4. John Howe Says:

    AOPA by giving members of The Wilderness Society a ride will undoubtedly give them ideas as to a need to further restrict access to even bigger areas. The only way to deal with environmentalists is to not deal at all. Make no mistake, these people are zealots, and will keep pushing and spreading lies to further their agenda. This movement has taken over this entire country. Up until a few years ago, most all the burden was put on industry, thus we all have been paying but not directly seeing the costs. They are now reaching out in more directions that we all can see from stopping new development, creating more wilderness areas thus further restricting recreational access and imposing airspace restrictions.
    This entire movement has been further empowered by by state and federal legislation that seems to have no end, the latest being the carbon legislation moving through congress now. The movement has virtually shut down California with no scientific basis to back it up.
    AOPA is falling into the same trap, thinking that we all have to become green. This organization and the people of this country need to wake up, and get rid of their quilt feeling that is being constantly driven home everyday by the media. This country has nothing to feel guilty about! Unless you all want to be flying AirCam’s in the future, and be like Europe and fly within 5 miles of the airport, or not flying at all, we all need to change direction now.
    John Howe, California

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