In a strongly worded letter to Lieutenant Governor Bradley Scott Owen, AOPA objected to Washington State Senate Bill 6262 that would penalize pilots for flying too close to the state Capitol building or the governor's mansion. The bill would assess class C felony charges against operators of private aircraft flying closer than 1,000 feet to the buildings. "This bill unfairly and unnecessarily singles out private aircraft in an attempt to criminalize private aviation. General aviation pilots should not be singled out as criminals," AOPA Senior Vice President Andrew Cebula said in the letter.
AOPA also argued that Federal Aviation Regulation 14 CFR 91.119 already prohibits a pilot from operating below an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle over a congested area, except when necessary for takeoff or landing. "Such issues should be left to the expert authority of the FAA to regulate and investigate," Cebula advised.
The bill, introduced by Senator Prentice, is but one example of how state leaders, unfamiliar with general aviation, attempt to regulate the aviation industry.
AOPA's regional representative for the Northwest, Mike Ferguson, is one of 13 individuals around the country who work closely with the Frederick headquarters staff to respond to state legislative issues and has been active on opposing S.B.6262. "With recent events that have taken place, we expect security will be amongst the top of legislators' agendas in their 2002 sessions, and we are prepared to address," concluded Cebula.