During a recent Senate vote, the senator from Washington, Maria Cantwell, chose to vote with the airlines, and against the rest of aviation. It was a narrow vote — 11 to 12 — so her vote had a significant impact and could have easily turned the tide on this one. The battle is not over, but it is disappointing to see our elected official NOT listening to her constituents and acting in our best interests. That is her job, and she is not doing it.
The senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens, also voted with the airlines — a stunning move, as Alaska is so dependent on general aviation for basic transportation and supplies.
The airlines must be offering some serious financial incentives to these elected officials, as they are choosing to act on behalf of big business, rather than the people they are supposed to represent. These politicians are aligning themselves with the very airlines that have bankrupted themselves through poor management, demanded their pilots, mechanics and flight attendants take pay cuts from already meager salaries, dumped their pension funds on the U.S. taxpayer, and have given their executives big bonuses for bad management decisions. And these same executives who bankrupted their own companies want to control a government agency that already can’t account for the billions it spends? You’ve got to be joking. But it’s no joke — that’s what the airlines and the FAA are trying to do.
In days past, our organizations and chapters have busied themselves with flying, education and philanthropic duties. In today’s hostile political climate, we must add to our list of duties and stand up for our right to fly freely and safely in our own country. The FAA does not have our best interests at heart, nor do the airlines or many of our politicians. If they have their way, we will be paying out the nose for any little flight we do in high user fees and exorbitant fuel taxes. Many of us will stop flying because we can no longer afford it. All of general aviation has a huge impact on a local, state and national level, and contributes significantly to our economy. As an example: Recent state figures for little Harvey Field in Snohomish, Wash., show 446 jobs and $775 million generated by just one small airport!
The FAA has already shown that it will not stop in its quest to change our current system of funding its operations — a system that has worked beautifully for almost 40 years and will continue to do so if left alone.
They are giving testimony in Congress trying to justify such actions, and they have been sending out almost daily press releases to hammer their points and wear down any opposition. We have refuted many of their arguments as factually untrue, and rather than backing down and acting reasonably, they are seemingly afraid of losing face (and the re-election), and have doubled their efforts to push this ludicrous plan through. If they have their way, not only will we pay astronomical charges for any service or flight, but Congress will no longer have any oversight of the FAA’s spending. They will not have to answer to anyone for how they spend our hard-earned dollars. This is like giving a teenager a car and a lavish bank account. How long will the money last and where did it go? What happened to the car? Soon they’ll be back, wanting more and more and more. Where will it end? It won’t unless we stand up and say no.
This is a call to arms, for there is a war on and it’s right here in our own country. The FAA and the airlines have declared war on U.S. airplanes and pilots, and they’re fighting to win. They want us to knuckle under and let them have free rein to control all the money and all the airspace. Simply put, they want to drive us out of the sky. We are an annoyance.
I am not willing to let them do it. I love flying, and I won’t give up that freedom. And I will fight with computer, phone, pen and in person, and I ask you to do the same, beginning right now. We owe that to ourselves, the kids that will fly in the future, and the generations before us who fought to keep our freedoms in this country. Not to mention the Wright boys, sister Katherine, the Stinson girls, Louise and Amelia, and every woman who’s every pushed the boundaries and taken to the air and to space. This is our past, our present and our future.
Momentum is building to communicate and unite all aviation groups together to better face these challenges. Please be part of that momentum and reach out in every possible way. We must stand together now.