Several weeks ago, the Air Transport Association (ATA), perhaps operating in concert with the FAA, initiated a media campaign that is not in the best interests of us, the “little guys” who enjoy flying our personal, general aviation aircraft without paying “user fees.” The ATA’s pro-user fee position is appearing throughout the nation in numerous newspapers and other nationally-syndicated media outlets. ATA intends to increase media coverage of its position in the coming weeks prior to the Congressional vote.

The Air Transport Association’s media effort is called the Smart Skies Campaign, and it is a doozy of slick marketing and media presentation. Their website is SmartSkies.org. This website contains a Pandora’s Box of information regarding the Air Transport Association’s ongoing efforts to “educate” the general public about “upgrading the nation’s antiquated air traffic control system and fund the system more fairly between commercial and corporate traffic.”

The ATA’s campaign is really quite simple and ingenious: A quick letter or email to any newspaper editor or radio/TV news producer referencing this website, and the ATA’s viewpoints are readily available for copying and distribution to the general public.

Please note the ATA’s position does not reference the “little guy,” you and me, in their presentations, as they do not want to create any potential opposition from general aviation. Perhaps the ATA realizes the power of a “grassroots” response if the media start to make specific reference to ANY potential impact on the “little guy” side of general aviation.

EAA, AOPA and other aviation organizations cannot handle the ATA’s “Smart Skies” campaign alone. All of us need to get involved with this contentious issue in one manner or another. Write to your congressmen and senators expressing your displeasure with “user fees.” Write to the newspapers and express your displeasure with the proposed “user fees” and how they will affect your flying endeavors.

Use specific examples in your letters and present them in simple or “laymen” terms. Compare “user fees” to everyday driving, such as increased auto fuel taxes, more tolls on roads, fees for using highway rest stops, fees on tires, oil, etc. Comparisons will assist the general public in further understanding the impact such “user fees” will have on our recreational and/or business flying.

As I learn more, I will forward it along. In the meantime, please forward this letter to as many of your friends as possible and encourage them to write letters to their elected representatives in Washington, D.C. — and to the local media expressing your displeasure and your opposition to the FAA’s proposed “user fees.”

Happy flying, safely!


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