Heartland pilots oppose user fees

July 16, 2007

Heartland pilots oppose user fees

User fees and the FAA funding debate are a hot topic, even in the heartland. While the weather for the weekend of July 14 and 15 was perfect for flying, the political climate at a fly-in and an airshow in rural northwest Missouri was plenty steamy.

The event was the Fourth Annual Congressional Fly-In and Wing Nuts Flying Circus at Gould Memorial Airport in Tarkio, Missouri, sponsored by Rep. Sam Graves (a Piper J-3 Cub owner and AOPA and EAA member) and EAA Chapter 1405. Tarkio is Graves' hometown and in his congressional district.

The airshow featured both vintage and contemporary civilian and military aircraft, coordinated by combat air traffic controllers from the Kentucky Air National Guard who used the event as a training exercise.

According to AOPA President Phil Boyer, an invited speaker, the event was a perfect way to showcase a typical general aviation airport serving an agricultural community. Gould Memorial Airport is also the type of community asset that could be threatened under some of the user fee proposals now pending in Congress.

During his speech, Boyer praised Rep. Graves (R-Mo.) for his service on the House aviation subcommittee, which "finally produced an FAA funding bill (H.R.2881) for all of aviation in America, unlike the Senate bill for the airlines or the FAA bill for the administration's user fees."

Boyer also passed out oversized stickers that said, "Stop User Fees! — Support H.R. 2881." The stickers were eagerly snapped up by pilots and AOPA members from Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and Oklahoma.

Other notables attending the weekend event included Sporty's Pilot Shop owner Hal Shevers, General Aviation Manufacturers Association President Peter Bunce, and National Business Aircraft Association Regional Representative Bob Quinn.

July 16, 2007