User fees…Only 3,035 against?

Really? Are there only 3,035 general aviators out there who are against paying a $100 per flight user fee?

Click here to sign the petition. If you’re not already convinced, then please read on.

Maybe you’ve been busy with work. Maybe you’ve been caught up in a family member getting ready to graduate from high school or college, just like me. Perhaps you haven’t heard about our President’s proposal to have general aviators pay a $100 fee for each flight. That last one is possible, but not likely.

Security is about protecting things and activities that are important to us. Regulations and tax proposals, just like terrorists and thieves, can be categorized as threats to our freedom to fly. This proposal is a direct threat, every bit as much as Al Qaeda and Los Zetas, and much closer to home.

Yes, I know that there is language in the President’s proposed budget to exclude piston aircraft and flight operations outside of controlled airspace. Hmmm…well, if you can stand to stay below 700 feet AGL, or maybe 1,200 feet AGL tops, you might be able to avoid such fees. But how will you prove that you didn’t climb to 1,201?

Why should the owner of a small single engine aircraft with a turbine engine have to pay the proposed fee when a much larger multi-engine aircraft that is powered by reciprocating or radial engines doesn’t? Who is responsible in the administration for doing a sanity check on this stuff anyway?

Did the President’s staff of wise advisors consider what it takes to create the brand new right seater flying that airliner that takes them home at Thanksgiving? Maybe they just expect Air Force One to give them a lift. Did they consider just how many new student pilots it takes to train and support in order to eventually achieve that new airline pilot?

Sure, they could say just one. But that would miss the big picture of the size of the general aviation industry that supports the entire production effort of all student pilots to get that one statistical first pilot. Consider how costs of operation would skyrocket if we lost the general aviation industry’s current economies of scale. Consider the impact to future aviation safety with fewer airline pilot candidates to choose from.

So add just $100 to every flight. What’s an extra $100 to all of those really rich pilots who have nothing better to do than buzz around on the weekends? We’ll never miss it, will we?

This proposal is perched atop a slippery slope. Once implemented, what’s to prevent a new schedule of fees for piston aircraft or those that remain in uncontrolled airspace? The precedent will already have been set.

Fellow general aviators, this proposal is an even bigger threat than the withdrawn proposal for the Large Aircraft Security Program. We sent a clear message to TSA with well over 7,000 negative responses. Up to now we don’t even have half of the needed 25,000 signatures to send a wake-up call to the White House.

If you want to send a message to the President that we don’t want his $100 user fee and would like him to publicly justify it using hard facts and numbers, then click here to go the webpage and sign the petition. You’ll find my signature there; it’s number 3,018. I hope to see yours there, too!

Fly safe and be secure.


Dave Hook, an expert on general aviation security, is president of Planehook Aviation Services, LLC in San Antonio, Texas.


  1. swebster says

    More on the problem I reported – appears to happen with Google Chrome browser – I switched to Explorer and it worked…

  2. swebster says

    A BIG reason there are so few signatures is the site where that petition is hosted appears to have problems – I’ve been trying for an hour now to add my name and I just end up in a circular loop where it is asking me to sign in before I can sign the petition, yet I AM signed in. Further there is a link on the page that says “if you are signed in and having problems click here” when you click that it takes you to a page that is under construction. So it is no wonder there are few signatures since it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to sign the frigging petition!

  3. Tom says

    I signed it, but the count actually went from 3778 back down to 3777 afterwards. It’s interesting that the last petition on this subject only needed 8900 to get a response, and the answer from the white house was to give some false numbers that they didn’t research. Now we need 25,000, and we will probably get the same lie for a response. Sign it with your vote in November.

  4. Moses Lonn says

    It appears the site is screwed up.  Can’t get anywhere near anything to sign from the petition page – only into my profile.  And now I’m a little concerned that they know who I am and where I live.

  5. Wylbur says

    Can’t vote because the system will not let me. And I am a registered user — and this is not the first or only time I’ve been vocal on this subject.

  6. says

    I agree with Jcolman.   I got a better idea……vote the sob out of office……and maybe even a better idea……go on strike.  Leave your airplane on the ground.  Shut down the FBO’s.   You know exactly what washington will do with your $100 dollars…..piss it away like all the other dollars that they get.

    • Lee Ensminger says

      First of all, that go on strike idea will be just as effective as all of those e-mails that are circulated saying “nobody buy gas this coming Tuesday and we’ll show the oil companies who’s boss.” That’s right, no effect at all. Secondly, what would shutting down privately owned FBO’s accomplish other than to put more people on unemployment tax dollars and ending any shred of service available at airports? That wouldn’t affect the government in any way whatsoever. 

  7. Leguest says

    I also have a novel idea. Why not charge for flap deployment? 50% flaps-50 dollars. 100% flaps -100 dollars. Just make flap deployment counter mandatory on each airplane and charge accordingly. We rarely do flapless landings so we would pay. Pilots trying to avoid this tax on short fields would be punished. Some may even die but it is a small price to pay for fair taxation.

  8. Jcolman says

    Having to register with Obama to sign a petition is a deal killer.  You will never reach your  signature goal.

        • Lee Ensminger says

          Kevin, you’re right. These folks who are worried about being identified are just naive if they think the government couldn’t track them. It’s just their reason/excuse for not taking action. Like you, I’ve put my name on here. I’m not afraid of being identified. What is this…the new Soviet Union?!? Also, this is a sad commentary on people today. When the Founding Fathers affixed their names to the Declaration of Independence, they fully expected to be hanged! That didn’t stop them from doing what was right. That’s part of the reason we’ve gotten to this sorry state today. No one is willing to stand and say enough! No more!

    • Carlsonj says

      Seriously?  That makes no sense.  First of all, it’s a registration with the White House web site, not with Mr. Obama.  Calling it the latter is just plain silly at best, and fear-mongering at worst.  Furthermore, I very much appreciate that the White House does these separate registrations — rather than relying on the privacy-robbing Facebook authentication mechanism, like so many other sites these days.  It lets me register using any account I wish, and has a pretty clear policy attached to it.

      Plus, unlike a private site, there’s no risk that some third party might buy it out and resell the data under arbitrarily changed privacy rules … which is precisely what’s happened at other web sites.

      If you have to worry about something, I think it’s shocking and depressing that this web site registration is what has you hung up, and not the very real threats to life and liberty that we’ve become accustomed to over the past couple of decades.  With so many extra and bogus things to fear, life must be just miserable over there.

    • redmanxi says

       You obviously are ignorant. Not stupid, ignorant, look it up if you have to, there is a difference.

      I assume you are some guy in your 40-50’s+ trying to stick it to obama. I don’t like him but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to voice my opinion. The gov’t has all your information anyways, hell if I wanted to I could get all your info too.

  9. Limaco03 says

    Most pilots would say that the issue isn’t an additional hundred dollars out of our pockets, but the practice of charging based on segments.  Every pilot in the country already pays for the National Airspace System through fuel taxes.  Pilots have shown themselves willing to adjust the rates paid in order to ensure that everyone pays their fair share.  We question why a new bureaucracy will need to be created to track and collect these fees, and the myriad other charges that will then be invented (and need additional funding to collect) on things like weather briefings, instrument approach procedures, and other services which enhance safety for pilots, passengers, and those on the ground.  If there’s a charge to use these services, that creates a disincentive to use them, which could harm safety.  That’s the slippery slope we see.  Pilots are willing to pay their fair share, and a system to collect those payments already exists.  Why create a new one that will be more expensive and opens the door to fees that would damage aviation and curtail safety efforts?

  10. gbin says

    “Why should the owner of a small single engine aircraft with a turbine engine have to pay the proposed fee when a much larger multi-engine aircraft that is powered by reciprocating or radial engines doesn’t?”

    The question might instead be asked:  When financial straits require that more revenue be raised by the federal government, as is clearly the case today, why shouldn’t those who are most capable of paying be asked to pay more than those who are less capable of paying?  A great many Americans see progressive fees/taxes as the most fair and equitable way to go.

    Another question that might be asked:  Why are so many people who are in positions of authority in general aviation, such as Mr. Hook who authored this article, so determined to mislead people into believing that the proposed user fee already pertains to all of general aviation or will soon do so?  That piston engine exemption is no small thing, and despite a lot of rhetoric about precedents and slippery slopes, no one has yet presented any real evidence to suggest that the exemption will be removed.  Why not simply offer whatever honest argument you can make against the fee and let it go at that?

    I agree that people opposed to the fee should make themselves heard about it (as should people in favor of the fee, so far as that goes), but given all of the misinformation and fear-mongering that some folks are spreading on this issue, I strongly recommend that people be sure they really know what they’re opposing, and why.

    • ArcherPilot says

      Why do I think that this is a slippery slope?  It will be expanded to include more aircraft and services just like the governments of the following did it: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Britain, France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, the European Union, Sweden,…..   And those are the ones I know about!

    • Rda says

      This fee is about reducing the deficit, not paying for aviation services. Why is aviation being singled out if not as a political ploy. With the proposed rules, a $400,000 turboprop will pay more to reduce the deficit yet a 1m dollar motor home or boat will not? How is that progressive? So if I have 1million dollars I should pay a higher tax to see a movie then less well off people should pay? Where does it stop?

      The worst part is it might just be a way to increase IRS jobs since a significant portion of the fee goes toward collection. Raising fuel taxes would not creat IRS jobs and would cost users less while raising a similar amount of money. Yea, it’s got to be political, that is the only reason to do it.

      Oh, I tried to sign the petition and Obama would not let me, or the site has issues.

      • gbin says

        The proposed user fee that we’re discussing is only one small line in a very large and complex budget proposal.  General aviation is (or more accurately, GA’s wealthier pilots are) hardly being singled out.  They’re looking in all kinds of places for more revenue, and also for programs that they can cut or trim.
        Declaring it to be some kind of political ploy, as a number of folks have been doing, just doesn’t make any sense.  First, proposing any fee or tax these days is generally a way to lose votes, not gain them.  Second, every administration going quite a ways back – both Democratic and Republican – has proposed some kind of general aviation user fee along the lines of the one currently being considered.
        People really need to use their heads a bit more and their knees a bit less (as in knee-jerking  :^   ) when considering this stuff.

    • says

      gbin writes: “Why are so many people who are in positions of authority in general aviation, such as Mr. Hook who authored this article, so determined to mislead people into believing that the proposed user fee already pertains to all of general aviation or will soon do so?  That piston engine exemption is no small thing, and despite a lot of rhetoric about precedents and slippery slopes, no one has yet presented any real evidence to suggest that the exemption will be removed.”

      Let me answer your question by asking you one: What makes you think the BHO administration WON’T drop the piston exemption?  There is NOTHING in the wording of this part of the 2013 budget that prevents it.  All rhetoric aside, once you have user fees and a collection bureaucracy in place, and you see that your target budget isn’t going to be met due to some loophole that those who are supposed to be paying have used to bypass collection (admit it – there usually is), the next and easiest thing to do to meet your budget is to increase the scope of your new fee.  That means shrugging your shoulders as you amend your fee schedule to include piston twins above a certain weight, then all twins, then singles above, etc., etc., ALL without due process nor legislative oversight.  Ask a British aviator how much it costs to fly in Europe, then come back to me and tell me not to worry about rhetoric.  There is no misleading going on here, only shrewd precautions.

      “Keep the camel from getting his nose in the tent, lest the rest of him will surely follow.”

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