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AOPA blasts 'USA Today' about nuclear power plant storyAOPA blasts 'USA Today' about nuclear power plant story

Brent Jones
Letters to the Editor
USA Today
McLean, VA
Via Facsimile 703/854-2053

General aviation aircraft are NOT a threat to nuclear power plants and spent-fuel storage areas. Using a foreshortened photograph, "analysis" of the number of airports "within 60 miles of plants," and opinions of non-nuclear "experts," USA Today tried to create the impression that there is some unaddressed danger from small aircraft. But the nuclear experts you were able to cite concur that crashing a small aircraft into any part of a nuclear plant would not cause the release of harmful radiation to the public. That's the evidence.

That there are airports close to power plants is irrelevant. Distance, after all, means nothing to an airplane. What is relevant is the size, weight, and speed of the aircraft. Reactor containment buildings are designed to withstand the impact of a large commercial airliner—an aircraft capable of generating 2,300 times the kinetic force of the typical general aviation aircraft. And again, the experts have concluded that GA aircraft (which are typically smaller than a Honda Civic) don't have the kinetic force to significantly damage any part of the plant.

Nor are community airports "unguarded." The general aviation community does care about security. That's why the nation's pilots are voluntarily participating in AOPA's Airport Watch program to enhance airport security.

USA Today unfairly labeled general aviation a threat. It's not. You have contributed to the unfounded hysteria about small aircraft. Shame on you.

Phil Boyer, President
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

June 11, 2003

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