For the first time in AOPA Expo history, the Secretary of Transportation will be there live to speak and answer member questions. Secretary Norman Y. Mineta has just confirmed that he will be addressing the Expo General Session Saturday morning, November 5.
Mineta has always been known for straight talk, so you'll hear the unvarnished reality from this Washington, D.C., insider, the only Democrat in President Bush's cabinet, and the man with his finger on the pulse of all transportation issues. (Not to mention, he's also FAA Administrator Marion Blakey's boss.)
And we always make time for AOPA members to ask questions of our featured speakers at Expo.
"Norman Mineta has been a knowledgeable and independent friend to aviation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "He has always given a fair hearing to the concerns of the nation's general aviation pilots."
Mineta built a reputation as both a transportation expert and a consensus-builder during his 21 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing California's San Jose area. He served as chairman of the House aviation subcommittee from 1981 to 1988, and in 1992 he was named chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee, a position he held for two years.
"Norm Mineta was a leading advocate for general aviation in Congress," said Boyer. "He supported taking the aviation trust fund 'off budget' so that all taxes collected could be spent on improving our aviation infrastructure."
Mineta also focused congressional attention on key aviation issues such as product liability, airport and airspace access, and aviation safety.
In 1987, Mineta received AOPA's Hartranft Award, honoring his contributions to the advancement of general aviation. In 1997, Mineta chaired the National Civil Aviation Review Commission (NCARC).
"AOPA still disputes the NCARC's conclusions," said Boyer. "However, Chairman Mineta did oppose user fees on general aviation."
He continued opposition to both a privatized air traffic control and general aviation user fees after his appointment as Secretary of Transportation in the Bush administration.
But within the last year, both he and FAA Administrator Marion Blakey have been talking about the "funding crisis" facing the FAA and the need for " new revenue streams" to make up the shortfall.
While neither has advocated user fees, there are plenty of people within the administration who do. And the Bush administration wants to significantly reduce the general fund contribution to the FAA, which in AOPA's opinion is what has precipitated the "crisis."
Mineta will have the opportunity to explain all of that at Expo this year.
"Norm Mineta knows and understands general aviation," said Boyer. "He has a personal interest in it as well: Two of his sons are active GA pilots. So we know he will speak to us pilots with our concerns in mind and in words we'll understand."
August 26, 2005