AOPA spends considerable time and effort establishing and cultivating relationships with members of Congress. And those relationships pay off for general aviation pilots. Consider this: Six members of the House aviation subcommittee who described themselves as "general aviation enthusiasts" wrote to subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) last week to urge him to oppose any security legislation that would place an undue burden on GA.
"It's the kind of thing that requires a Washington, D.C.-based and dedicated staff," explained Jon Hixson, AOPA's vice president of legislative affairs. "You can't do it over a telephone or by 'parachuting in' when an issue gets hot."
The congressmen's letter said, "We write to voice our disapproval over legislation, H.R. 5035, which would devastate the general aviation community," referring specifically to an amendment that would have required airline-style security screenings for all GA flights.
AOPA's friends in Congress noted that, "Since September 11, 2001, no industry voluntarily has done more to improve the security of its operations than the general aviation industry.... Overreaching regulations must not hinder this collaborative effort."
They urged the chairman to oppose any transportation security legislation similar to the GA security-screening bill.
Then they threw in the kicker: "Such language would certainly cause a proactive, bipartisan bill to lose critical support within the aviation industry."
The congressmen signing the letter were Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.).
October 7, 2004