9:36 PM

A nice sound byte, but…

On Tuesday, Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta told a House Appropriations Committee hearing there would be no GA user fees in the Bush administration's FAA funding proposal:

“What is before OMB has no user fees imposed on general aviation. I've said this to AOPA at their annual convention...there would not be GA user fees."
While this sounds all well and good, this pilot – and the association that represents me in Washington – is not biting, at least not hook line and sinker. AOPA remains concerned about the future and has their eye on congress, and you can read their position here.

Mineta makes a point that this is as much a safety issue as a funding issue. He says the DOT is "concerned that GA pilots likely wouldn't file flight plans if they were charged for them."

Oh really? Are we to believe that under the current funding system, all those itty bitty airplanes up there are filing nice little VFR flight plans now? Most everyone I know flies with flight following, which by the way has been much easier to obtain post 9/11. So DOT/FAA seems to be playing the "safety card" and leading the uninformed to believe that with user fees, a bunch of cowboys with yokes in their hands are just going to be flying around under the radar, hiding from the FAA so they can avoid those gosh derned user fees.

I really want to believe Secretary Mineta is on our side on this. And if it turns out he is looking out for the best interest of GA, I'll admit that pigs fly too.

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