The truth is out there… somewhere.
Last week, a proposed amendment to the House’s National Defense Authorization Act caused a bit of a firestorm. The proposed amendment from Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) would “bar the Department of Defense from loaning or gifting any U.S. military aircraft or parts to any entity except those that would put the aircraft on static display, such as in a museum,” says an EAA story posted on April 18.
By April 21, Turner issued a press release that stated, among other things, “The Warbird community plays an important role in bringing WWII era aircraft to our nation’s citizens. These propeller-driven craft are ambassadors of freedom’s price and I do not support grounding any of them.”
So how did we get from grounding the fleet to not grounding “propeller-driven” craft in the span of a few days? What was it that set off the cascade of events?
To see if I could seek some clarity on the discussion, I called Turner’s Washington, D.C. office. Tom Crosson, Turner’s communications director, told me, “The Congressman has no comment on the draft process.” Crossen said the discussions were “taken out of context,” and suggested I refer to House Report 111-491 titled, “Study and Report on Feasibility of Transferring Aircraft from a Military Department to a Non-Federal Entity for the Purposed of Restoring and Flying the Aircraft.”
Fair enough. I honestly didn’t expect to hear anything different. After all, until the amendment is published, it’s… conjecture… thoughts… ideas… discussion.
Douglas Macnair, EAA’s Vice President, Government Relations, has been active in the discussions. “This is a difficult issue, and we have been reacting to a proposal that was never submitted in writing. As a result, it has been a moving target from the start,” said Macnair. “It is important to note that the position of the general aviation community in general, and the Warbird community specifically, has been clearly articulated and well received. We hope Congressman Turner will honor his commitment to not introduce this amendment to this bill [H.R. 4310].”
So, somewhere between “ground them all” and “leave well enough alone” is the truth. But something in the dialogue spooked someone. I can only hope that Turner doesn’t reach a position of significant power in Congress or has a very bad memory. I have a feeling future support, from Turner, for anything general aviation related will be near impossible. Time will tell.
Ben Sclair is publisher of General Aviation News.
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