AOPA President Boyer: It's now time for action!

From AOPA web site:

AOPA President Boyer: It’s now time for member action!
Call your senators and congressman now!

10/1/01 5:58:19 PM, ET

AOPA is urging all pilots to action to help restore VFR flight in Class B airspace.

“We’ve been able to restore almost all general aviation flying by working through FAA and the Department of Transportation,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “Now it’s time to turn to Congress because FAA has not been able to get relief for these 30 geographic regions, our major cities. The grassroots level will get us to the decision makers and allow us to proactively offer solutions to the National Security Council that will allow VFR pilots to return to the Class B skies.”

Pilots should their U.S. senators and congressman on Tuesday to ask for their help in restoring flight privileges. Specifically, pilots should ask their representatives to help arrange a meeting between the National Security Council and AOPA (and other general aviation organizations) to discuss procedures that will allow reasonable VFR access to Class B airspace while addressing security and air traffic control concerns.

For the first time in history, AOPA is e-mailing an AOPA Legislative Alert to members, providing the information they need to call Congress. And this is only the fourth time in the last 11 years that AOPA has asked all members to contact legislators.

“A phone call makes a much greater impact on Congress,” said Boyer. “A personal call from a voter is the most effective method of influencing a member of Congress. And the sheer number of calls will make it clear just how important this issue is to pilots.”

Boyer, along with AOPA’s Washington-based legislative affairs staff, will be meeting with key members of Congress on Wednesday and Thursday. Pilot action tomorrow will help sensitize Congress to the issue.

For more information on contacting Congress, see the Legislative Alert.

Gary and I are writing letters, making phone calls, and sending emails, and I hope everyone else does the same. This is so important to General Aviation and our personal futures as pilots and aircraft owners. Even if you are IFR rated, as we are, it is nevertheless urgent to “free the GA 41,000” VFR aircraft trapped at enhanced B. Our wonderful network of small airports is at risk - they cannot continue to operate without the revenue generated by airplanes needing fuel, repairs etc and tenants, such as restaurants, maintenance and avionics shops staying in business to pay their rent. Just yesterday, we heard that a (normally) busy, towered airport in St. Petersburg FL has announced it is going to close down and lay off its workers.

Just a reminder to those who didn’t get a chance to view this thread: Call your Congressmen! See Roger’s post, above, for links to Congress phone numbers. The impact of having 41,000 VFR aircraft trapped in enhanced Class B is devastating to our wonderful network of small airports. A study reported in today’s “Tampa Tribune” estimates 30,000 jobs will be lost in General Aviation, just in Florida, as result of all the recent problems. One in 4 aviation related companies may close or file for bankruptcy. If we don’t protest, we may have wonderful planes and not so many places to fly them!

Which airport is closing? Clearwater/St Pete?

I haven’t called my Senators and Congressmen for two reasons: (a) as a resident of DC, I don’t have any [a different topic], and (b) as a journalist I feel awkard about this kind of direct-lobbying.

I do take subtle pride in the “Free the GA 41,000” campaign. On September16 I sent this note to a friend in the AOPA hierarchy:

"Date: Sun Sep-16-2001 6:47pm
From: J Fallows
Subject: Free the Gaithersburg 200!

Hi XXX, consistent with National Security, etc etc, those of us with planes frozen on the ground at KGAI (and College Park and all the rest) will be grateful for what you can do to authorize “evacuation” / relocation flights to airports outside the no-fly zone. Like your own FDK, for instance! Or HEF, where I had been considering basing my plane anyway, since it’s a Cirrus service site.

Keep it up, see you, Jim"

Albert Whitted (SPG) in downtown St. Petersburg. Gary heard it on the local radio news. I don’t know if there was any time frame given.


How rumors get started.

SPG is and has been under fire from developers, but this is old news. The airport is alive and well and home base for my plane. Well, maybe it isn’t so well these days, but at least it is chugging along.

I am very glad to hear that. Your post intrigued me so much (that there could be such a disparity between the reported news and the truth) that I called the appropriate city office (SPG, as you know,is run by the City of SP), and was told that there was an article that day in the paper about the FBO having to lay off workers. Apparently, the radio reporter confused the airport being in danger of closing, with the FBO being in danger.( But this is not related to the old news about the developer.) Sorry about that. Nevertheless, if these airport businesses fail due to lack of flights and can’t pay their rents, gov’t entities may be reluctant to increase operating funds for the “little” airports. So, call your Congressmen!