March 4, 2003
Members of the General Aviation Coalition (GAC), including AOPA and representing virtually every aspect of general aviation, are calling on President Bush to speak out against Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's destruction of Merrill C. Meigs Field and take steps to prevent any similar local action in other communities.
In a joint letter to the President, GAC members said, "We are concerned about who is responsible for decisions affecting national security. The general aviation community...is shocked and outraged that a mayor, using the pretext of national security, can destroy a national asset, create a significant safety risk and reduce capacity in an area already faced with significant aviation congestion."
"Working with the GAC is just one of the fronts on which AOPA plans to fight the Meigs closure," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
The GAC letter asks Mr. Bush to "reaffirm federal authority over security matters affecting the nation's air transportation system." The GAC leaders say Daley's destruction of the runway at Meigs is akin to a mayor destroying on- and off-ramps to the federal interstate highways because of the possible threat of a truck bomb.
"Elevating the importance of our national system of airports to that of our national system of highways will send a clear signal to those who would justify their actions in the name of homeland protection. No local official should be allowed to damage unilaterally the national aviation system as was demonstrated on Monday."
The letter concludes, "Please do not stand idly by as our nation's airports and airspace face a patchwork of restrictions and closures via local and state power grabs."
Members of the General Aviation Coalition signing the letter included AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the Helicopter Association International (HAI), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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