Responding to an editorial critical of GA access to Washington's National Airport (DCA), a letter from AOPA President Phil Boyer appears in today's USA Today newspaper (page 22A) to address a long list of factual errors.
The editorial suggested that opening the airport to GA traffic puts the D.C. area at substantially higher risk of attack from terrorists. Still harping on the May 11 Cessna 150 incident and using highly inflammatory language, the editorial suggested that they might feel more sympathetic, "if the lackadaisical security for private planes had been ratcheted way up after 9/11.
"Instead, the government has ducked security for the nation's 220,000 private planes and their well-connected owners. Nearly four years after terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, pilots' licenses contain no photographs, making it relatively easy for a terrorist to use someone else's license."
" USA Today has a long history of anti-GA sentiment," said AOPA's Executive Vice President of Communications, Jeff Myers. "It is inexplicable that 'The Nation's Newspaper' - as they call themselves - would portray general aviation, a critical part of the nation's transportation infrastructure, so inaccurately. It's one thing to have a bad opinion. It's another thing to report bad facts."
The AOPA Media Relations department works with reporters across the country in every media - newspapers, TV, and radio. It provides a wide range of resources to the media in an effort to educate them so they can, in turn, educate their readers, viewers, and listeners. "Whether it's a national outlet like USA Today or a local one, if it's wrong we will correct them," said Myers. "Unfortunately, the corrections usually pale against the initial story. But if we can make them think twice - and hopefully call us - before they report again about GA, then it's well worth the effort."
June 10, 2005