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The House of Representatives is considering a vote on H.R. 2997, the 21st Century AIRR Act, which would remove air traffic control from the FAA and turn it over to the airlines.
Privatization would cost tens of billions of dollars and airlines could dictate policy at the expense of general aviation and rural communities. Additionally, costs would go up for every traveler, and a privatized ATC would be inherently “too-big-to fail” resulting in taxpayer bailouts.
In the past, the government has unsuccessfully tried to create non-profit, industry controlled monopolies like Amtrak and the Post Office – don’t let them do the same thing to our skies.
Please join us in speaking out against air traffic control privatization – you can send a letter to your representatives in Congress by filling out the form here or contact their Washington office by calling 1-855-383-7330. Make sure to ask your representatives to oppose HR 2997 and protect the freedom to fly. You needn’t provide a detailed response, just state your opposition to the bill.
AOPA needs your help now more than ever. Privatization would:
Tony, a software developer working on scenery add-ons for the X-Plane flight simulator, contacted me few days ago. He is creating a version of Oceano Airport [L52] for the X-Plane flight simulator and was trying to make the airfield look as realistic as possible. Specifically, he was looking for photographs or for a contact that would be willing to take some photographs of the airfield so, he could recreate the airfield as accurately as possible. His hope was that the airfield will be available for anyone who wishes to use it, and it would be great to have a faithful replication inside the simulator that people will instantly recognize as the real thing.
Oceano, CA is my home airport and near and dear to my heart. Who wouldn’t want to help a developer [software only!] get an understanding of the value of our airport, it’s layout, and its surroundings. The initial email he sent said that he needed:
“-Photographs of the buildings head on.
- Pictures of any signage around the airfield, including notices, advertisements.
- Pictures of the hangars on the far side of the field, these are hard to find imagery for.
- Pictures of the buildings on the other-side of the runway, those near to the traffic pattern indicator.
- A few more of the clubhouse building from the car park.
- The building where I think you can use bicycle.
- The signs facing out to the car park by the fuel tank. I think it's a map of "You are here", but there are also some other signs around.
- Further down there are lots of T shaped hangars, any close-up shots you can get would be great.
- If you can, more pictures of the Stearman. This will be a fun one to create a 3D model for.”
The photos below show where we started as his renderings were mostly from Google Earth.
I had a blast going down to the airport and taking the photos he needed. Each time I sent him a batch he asked for a few more details. I guess this request made me think about the airport in a new light. The computer-generated simulator could never capture the life and breath of this airport. Airport Improvement monies are funding the installation a new and necessary ASOS. While taking photos of the Pirate’s Lair on the far side of the field, I just smiled. The flags from the Oceano Air Pirates as well as the flags from neighboring airports [Santa Maria Rocketeers, Lompoc Cubbies] were flapping in the breeze. Four Cessnas flew in and unloaded. Many were headed to the beach for the sunny day. Our loaner bikes were checked out. Skydive Pismo Beach was loading up the jump plane, and Banner Airways was giving rides in the Stearman.
I suppose, real or simulated, my home airport is a slice of paradise worth protecting and promoting. I am so happy that Tony reached out from X-Plane. I got the benefit of seeing Oceano Airport from some new angles which also gave me some ideas for sprucing up. I look forward to seeing the finished copy on the simulator as well as enjoying the reality of our beachside airport for many years to come.
On a personal note, I would like to welcome Greg Morton as the new AOPA ASN for L52 Oceano Airport. Greg brings his boundless enthusiasm and energy to Friends of Oceano Airport and I am grateful for it.
Next time you are at your airport, try to see it from a visitor’s eyes. Perhaps you will see some small improvements would make big changes toward the positive. As ASN volunteers we all work hard for our GA airports, but we can’t become complacent now. We must always strive to put our best foot forward to our communities and our visitors.
Sharing your aviation experiences with others is a great way to build community support for your airport. One of thrills I get out of flying is giving someone their first flight. The trust being placed in one's hands is awesome. A friend, acquaintance, family member, or stranger literally puts their life in your hands. This is even more poignant when your passenger is a child since the parents placing an incalculable treasure in your care.
Of course, these are not the primary thoughts of either party. I am excited to introduce someone to a new and wonderful experience. They are eager for the adventure and maybe a little anxious about how they will handle it. I start each flight with an introduction to the aircraft. I then get them strapped in, situate myself, and start the engine. I do a quick safety brief covering seat belts, emergency exit procedures, and the airsick bag. I subscribe to the theory that a known, present airsick bag is never needed. It has worked so far. We start to taxi. I cover airport procedures and engine run up as they occur. I reassure my passenger that we will have a smooth first flight with no dramatic maneuvers. If at any point they feel uncomfortable, we will terminate the flight and return to the airport immediately. I never do a first flight on a rough day. A last check of seat belts, doors, and windows and we are ready to go. I get an okay from my companion to depart. I have them ride along on the controls if they are interested and we take to the sky.
It is a joy watching the reaction as we sweep into the air and the world gains a new perspective. Most first timers are both awestruck and a bit disoriented. We work together to locate familiar landmarks from an unfamiliar perch. We pick a destination, a home, town, park, or other recognizable feature and head towards it. They become accustomed to the motion of the aircraft through the air, the occasional bump, the feel of gentle turns. They see familiar terrain from a new viewpoint, gaining perspective on the proximity of things on the ground.
I always offer new flyers a chance to control the aircraft as we return to the airport. Some jump at the chance. Most decline; content to enjoy the experience of flying and the unique view out the window. We fly a standard pattern as we reach the airport, taking a good look at the place we are going to land. I talk through the landing process as we come in. Then we are on the ground rumbling towards the ramp. They are excited, eager to share the experience and hoping go again soon. Over the past 12 months, it has been my privilege to provide first-ever flights to several people.
I thank them all for their trust. We all enjoyed the experience and my passengers will carry positive memories about their community airport.
Mecklenburg Brunswick Regional Airport has just started Phase 2 of its Runway and Lighting Rehabilitation project. This project is being funded primarily with FAA and Virginia Department of Aviation capitol improvement funds, with the local share coming from Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties, along with the Towns of South Hill, Brodnax, and LaCrosse. These 5 entities make up the Mecklenburg Brunswick Regional Airport Commission, and have fully supported the airport since it’s beginning in the 1970's.
The project has been in the planning and design phases since 2010, and was allowed to be pushed back a couple of times due to the excellent runway pavement management program in place since the runway was last paved in 1995.
The project consists of complete repaving of the runway and main connecting taxiway, new FAA reflective markings, the adding of turn fillets at taxiway intersections, and the replacement of the runway lighting fixtures and wiring, including the installation of new LED MIRL and HITL fixtures. Once completed, along with the follow on taxiway and ramp expansion program scheduled for 2018, the airport will be certified for class B2 aircraft operations.
Rather then shutting down operations on the 5000' runway during the project, the runway is being rebuilt in 3 phases, with phases 1 and 2 keeping 2100' of the runway open for daytime VFR operations. Phase 3, scheduled to start late July thru early August will result in a total runway shutdown of approximately 10 days.
These additions will help the safety and utility of our airport. The effort has been collaborative and project is slightly ahead of schedule and is expected to be completed in mid-September 2017.
Don't get left in the hangar! The FAA's ADS-B mandate takes effect in less than two-and-a-half-years and shops are filling up. The wait time for installations is increasing, and the FAA and AOPA do not expect costs to drop closer to 2020. Help increase pilot awareness of ADS-B at your airport by printing off and displaying these posters around your FBO and airport. Only 15% of the fleet is equipped and we need your help to spread the word. Remember, there is a lot of value to equipping sooner rather than later - traffic and weather for free - so help spread the benefits!
In June, Senators Inhofe (R-OK) and Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Forward Looking Investment in GA, Hangars, and Tarmacs Act, better known as the FLIGHT Act, in the United States Senate. The following week Congressman Graves (R-MO) and Congresswoman Bustos (D-IL) introduced an identical bill in the House of Representatives. The bill contains several provisions that will boost GA airports throughout the nation. AOPA and 27 other aviation industry groups strongly support the FLIGHT Act.
In recent years, Congress authorized over $3 billion annually for the Airport Improvement Program. This sounds like a lot of money until you consider the sheer number of airports (over 3,300) which qualify to receive funds, their infrastructure needs, and the ever-increasing cost of construction projects. One aviation industry group claims that our national airport system needs much more than $3 billion per year, every year.
In reality, we can expect modest increases to the AIP funding level each year that Congress makes an authorization. The FLIGHT Act will help optimize the use of AIP funds for small airports. For example, current law provides a guaranteed minimum of $150,000 for eligible projects each year and the airport has the option of “banking” that amount each year for up to 4 years for a total of $600,000. One section of the FLIGHT Act provides an extra year for airports to “bank” their entitlement for a total of $750,000. The extra year can make the difference between a project being completed or never started at all. Remember, the guaranteed $750,000 is in addition to any optional money the FAA choses to grant to the airport that year. Another section of the bill streamlines some of the environmental requirements for projects. Between the added funding flexibility and the environmental streamlining, GA airports should see more opportunities to complete their projects.
If the FLIGHT Act only accomplished that reform, also called “non-primary entitlement reform,” that would have been a great improvement, but there are other sections to the bill which go even further to channel money to GA airports. The FLIGHT Act calls for the development of a new program to bring private investment to small airports. New hangar development is typically not eligible for AIP funding. Usually, the airport must fund the development or allow an outside group or corporation to develop the hangars. While many corporations around the nation are willing to pursue that opportunity, airports must first make the opportunity known to them. The FLIGHT Act will provide airport sponsors in cash strapped communities with resources to help market their airport to that audience.
Finally, we all appreciate the role played by GA pilots and their aircraft in helping communities after natural disasters. Even those members of Congress who aren’t pilots appreciate this service. The FLIGHT Act will allow additional funding for designated disaster relief airports to ensure airports are even better prepared for their vital role. The House and Senate bills must clear many hurdles before the FLIGHT Act becomes law. In the meantime, please let me or your AOPA Regional Manger know if you have any questions.
July 24th -30th EAA Oshkosh:
EAA members and aviation enthusiasts totaling more than 550,000 from more than 80 countries attend EAA AirVenture 2017 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where they rekindle friendships and celebrate the past, present, and future in the world of flight. Come visit us at the AOPA tent and join in the ASN Happy Hour/Meet and Greet on Tuesday July 25th at 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 19, 2017 Mason Aviation Day Mason Jewett Airport; Mason MI (TEW)
7:30 am to 2:00 pm “All-U-Can Eat” Pancake Breakfast (served with eggs, sausage, juice & coffee) from 7:30am to 11:00am. Grilled Steak Lunch from Noon to 2:00pm. (Sandwiches will also be available.)
Gift Bags for the first 50 registered pilots plus door prize drawing. Many homebuilt, antique, war bird and general aviation aircraft are expected along with a variety of exhibits and displays. Helicopter & Airplane rides available at various costs (weather permitting). Parking and admission to Mason Jewett Airport is FREE. Hosted by EAA Chapter 55.
Saturday 26 August 2017 Friday Harbor Fly In, Friday Harbor Airport, WA (KFHR)
Come to the Friday Harbor Airport Fly-In for a celebration of Wings and Wheels, Saturday, August 26, from 10 to 3 pm! Get up close and personal with vintage and experimental aircraft, motorcycles and more. Enjoy a fly by or two. Exhibits, open hangars, demos, and food will keep the family entertained for the day. Brought to you in part by Kenmore Air and Kenmore Aero Services, you’ll be able to get inside a 9 passenger Cessna Caravan, meet Kenmore pilots, and enter a drawing to win Seattle Scenic Seaplane Tour for two. New event components include: vintage, custom and road race motorcycles plus select luxury cars on display. Skagit Powersports display will include land-speed record holding motorcycles and Alta Motors will participate with a variety of bikes including new electric motorcycles and exciting demonstrations. Contact: Stuart Hansen (360) 317-8674 [email protected]
Saturday 26 August 2017 New Castle Municipal Airport (KUCP) 10th Annual Wings & Wheels Fly-In, Cruise-In, and Craft/Vendor Show
Join us for a day of fun and community celebration at our 10th Annual Wings & Wheels Fly-In, Cruise-In, and Craft/Vendor Show! Experience hundreds of different airplanes and cars while shopping with local crafters and vendors! This event will also include helicopter and airplane rides, various local food vendors, and a safety seminar! Haski Aviation and SkySupplyUSA.com sponsor the event, in partnership with Rapid Tappets Car Club. For more information, visit us online.
AOPA Regional Fly-In April 28, 29th, 2017, Camarillo, CA [KCMA]
2017 fly-ins are our best yet, with expanded programming and lots of new opportunities for you to connect with fellow aviators, deepen your skills, and grow your aviation experience!
The Friday Workshops led by world-renowned presenters were very popular with attendees. The fun continued at our ever-popular Barnstormers Party, presented by Jeppeson. Saturday activities included free seminars all day, dozens of exhibits and aircraft on display, great meals, and a Pilot Town Hall with AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. New activities at this year’s fly-ins included a Kids Zone and the Aircraft Sellers Corral. Next up is September 8th-9th in Norman, OK.
May 12-13, 2017, L52, Oceano Airport, CA:
Friends of Oceano Airport Celebration: Salute to Veterans. Friday Beach Burger Fry & Dance, hay rides, children’s activities. Saturday free pancake breakfast for first responders, law enforcement, and veterans. Aircraft display, military vehicle display and collection of hundreds of items for military care packages. For more information, click here.
June 24th, Mt. Washington Regional Airport [KHIE] 70th Birthday GALA
This community event celebrated the 70th Birthday of Mt. Washington Regional Airport in Whitefield New Hampshire. Saturday’s events included rides on a large-scale model railroad, a classic car cruise-in, 100 antique tractors on display, RC airplane acrobatics, OHRV simulator, community craft fair and expo, and a children’s aviation craft activity. There was free ice cream on Saturday and food vendors on sight as well as a static display of the history of the airport. On Saturday night, attendees danced the evening away in a hangar to the sounds of the band "NOT YOUR MOTHER" while enjoying light hors d'oeuvres and dessert. Sunday morning there was a free pancake breakfast hosted by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund and the Whitefield Lions Club.