Experiences in other nations raise concerns about proposed user fee

CharlesSpence

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress and the president have big taxation problems to resolve before the end of this year, so there will no doubt be a lot of discussion about aviation user fees. On Dec. 31, all the “Bush” tax cuts will expire, the debt limit will need to be increased, and payroll tax cuts will expire. On the next day, sequestration cuts are set to kick in.

But opposition to the proposed user fee continues, with many general aviation advocates pointing to experiences in other nations as cautionary tales of the effect of user fees. And while much of general aviation in the United States is exempt from the proposed user fees, GA advocates warn that an expansion of the fees to all flights is a possibility.

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Bahamas Pilot Challenge takes off

A new Bahamas Pilot Challenge has been launched for 2012-2013, drawing general aviation pilots to more of the many islands of the Bahamas starting just 50-60 miles off the Florida coast.

Pilots who document landings at 12 of the 20 Bahamas airports of entry before Nov. 30, 2013, will be eligible to win a total of 23 hotel nights at top resorts on various islands.

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Estelle Wingster: A vintage airplane with a modern message

Wingster

In 1953 Ken Miller of Van Nuys, Calif., was a college student. He went to the airport with two friends and met a man who was giving rides in his Cessna 150.

“The guy said he would take each of us up for $10 a piece,” Miller recalled. “I had $20 in my pocket. The first guy goes but doesn’t have any money, so I paid for him. Then the second guy goes and he doesn’t have any money so I pay for him too and then I told the pilot I was out of money, but he took me up anyway. I was hooked, and took lessons whenever I could!”

Fast-forward several decades and about 1,500 flight hours later. Miller is at AirVenture standing next to a 1950s-era Cessna 195 with the name Estelle painted on the cowl and Wingster emblazoned on the top wings. According to Miller, the airplane is a flying billboard, designed to attract more people to aviation.

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Family tradition

H.L. Wilkinson poses with his son Lee in front of his new 1932 Alexander Eaglerock.

Back before David “Shorty” Wilkinson had a reason to be nicknamed “Shorty,” (because he is, after all, bean-pole tall) he thought every family traveled by airplane, because every family he knew had one. This made sense to him since his mom and dad were from Texas but lived in Georgia. An airplane made visiting relatives possible.

Some of his earliest memories as a child involved the restoration of the family station wagon, a 1943 V-77 Stinson, in the basement of their home. [Read more…]

Dress to survive: The Aviator Tactical Vest

RescuMe

If you had an unscheduled off-airport landing in rough back country, would you be able to survive to tell the story? Maybe, maybe not. It all comes down to how well prepared you are. A big part of that is having a survival kit, but if you can’t reach it after the “landing,” it doesn’t do a bit of good.

“Most of the crash sites I have been to, the tail of the airplane is about 400 feet behind the cockpit and when the survival kit is away from the main crash site, it doesn’t do anyone any good,” said Jim Herbert, who has more than 40 years experience as a pilot and back country guide and firefighter.

He’s also the creator of the Aviator Tactical Vest, which is designed for a 72-hour stay in the roughest terrain. [Read more…]

The cost of certification

Skycatcher

Since AirVenture 2012, I’ve been part of several discussions about the way — and reasons why — aircraft become certified. Sound boring? Yes and no.

One way this might get your interest is to consider if Icon Aircraft, which is developing the A5, could join Cessna in going Primary Category instead of Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA). (Disclaimer: I have no information about any such decision from Icon — this is merely a discussion.) Perhaps even more to the point is the price of airplanes based on their certification cost.

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Building a bigger tent

JamieBeckettHeadshot

With the Republican convention only days behind us, and the Democratic convention going on this week, this is the obvious opportunity to take a lesson from their play books. Because whether you subscribe to this one or that one, you have to admit the elephants and donkeys have been exceptionally successful for many years at exactly one thing: They stay in the driver’s seat year after year, fending off challengers with the ease a well-waxed airplane sheds raindrops in flight. And they both accomplish that feat by using the exact same method. They work hard to build a big tent, and then build it even bigger at every opportunity.

In contrast, let’s consider ourselves — general aviation community. We are a minority. A small minority, actually. Very small. We are also undeniably shrinking. [Read more…]