The Honorable Bob Stump
Committee on Armed Services
2120 Raybrun HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Stump:
On behalf of our 375,000 members who fly general aviation aircraft for business and personal use, 9,905 of whom live in Arizona, I would like to express our opposition to Section 1062 of the Senate passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2002 (S.1438). We would respectfully request that it be deleted from the bill at conference. If enacted, this section could result in the destruction of vintage military aircraft—destroying an important part of our nation's aviation history.
Section 1062 authorizes the secretary of Defense to require demilitarization of significant military equipment, including aircraft, formerly owned by the Department of Defense. Our members are concerned because many of these aircraft have been carefully preserved over the years and are now flown as part of the general aviation fleet. In addition, the section also stipulates under some circumstances the owners of significant military equipment be compelled to pay for the demilitarization of their own property, even though it was legally sold to them in that condition.
At a time when this nation faces a serious pilot shortage, predicted to last until the end of this decade, there is no better visibility given to aviation than the appearances many of these historical aircraft make at the public airshows and airports around our country. Much of this fleet tours the country each year, encouraging youth to look to aviation in the military and/or commercial sector as a vocation.
We realize this section originated from the discovery that certain surplus military equipment was being improperly coded, resulting in some potentially sensitive equipment being sold or in the costly and unnecessary disposal of other equipment. However, this reachback provision is so broad that it could easily lead to the destruction of vintage military aircraft. We would be pleased to work with the Conferees to draft a provision that addresses the problem—the accidental sale of militarily sensitive equipment—as an alternative to the overly broad provision now contained in the legislation.
We appreciate and thank you for your consideration. If you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me at 202/479-4050.
October 11, 2001