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AOPA asks Congress to help free the GA 41,000AOPA asks Congress to help free the GA 41,000

AOPA President Phil Boyer has sent a personal letter to members of Congress asking them to intervene with the National Security Council to help free the general aviation aircraft trapped at airports in enhanced Class B airspace. The letter (which follows a similar request to President Bush) was sent to each senator and congressman with trapped aircraft within his district.

Boyer said, "Something must be done immediately to permit these 41,000 general aviation aircraft...to return to the skies.... The continued ban on VFR flying, and the large restricted areas in Washington and New York prohibiting any general aviation access, leaves the owners of these aircraft without any means to use them. Their property has effectively been confiscated by the federal government."

AOPA offered recommendations that would open key reliever airports to GA activities and eliminate the need to temporarily relocate hundreds of aircraft, yet still maintain national security. "Our 'solution oriented' organization has offered ideas to solve these problems, but we have been unable to learn from the Department of Transportation or the National Security Council the concerns that prevent these aircraft from being flown or relocated," Boyer said.

The VFR aircraft using these airports in all 30 affected areas are slow moving and are flown by competent, rated pilots who are accustomed to operations in busy airspace, Boyer told Congress. The size and speed of the aircraft would not affect response times by homeland defense forces providing security patrols of the area.

And the FAA has issued a warning that the military could use "deadly force" against aircraft entering restricted or prohibited areas. Boyer said, "This places the 'ultimate penalty' on a pilot violating airspace restrictions."

Boyer asked the members of Congress to contact the National Security Council and ask that they work with the DOT, the FAA, and general aviation to allow the trapped pilots to regain their access to the nation's airspace system.

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