AOPA President Phil Boyer addresses
a hangar session at Sun 'n Fun.
Turner Loflin, from Georgia, flies AOPA's Virtual Commander while he dreams of becoming a pilot.
Sun 'n Fun aviation enthusiasts began flooding AOPA's Big Yellow Tent as soon as the gates opened Friday morning. Many signed up for chances to win prizes and piled on as many AOPA Day stickers as possible in hopes of increasing their chances of being spotted by the association's surPRIZE Squad.
The record: 35. Eleven-year-old Turner Loflin from Georgia covered himself with AOPA Day stickers. Loflin flies with friends and hopes to be a pilot. But for today, he was content to test out his skills on AOPA's Microsoft Flight Simulator set up in the Big Yellow Tent. He also learned from one of the most prominent figures in the general aviation industry: AOPA President Phil Boyer.
Loflin attended Boyer's informal hangar session Friday morning and learned about the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone and user fees. While he may not understand all of the details yet, he learned that AOPA will make sure he has access to the airspace system and affordable training when he gets old enough. And that lets him concentrate on having fun.
More than 100 young-at-heart pilots gathered for an update on AOPA's effort against the Washington, D.C., ADIZ. For AOPA members who don't live near the ADIZ, Boyer boiled down the burdensome requirements of that airspace.
"It would be like taking Florida's Class B airspace and saying that you can't fly in here - from 18,000 feet msl to the ground - without following IFR rules," Boyer said. "And if you incorrectly switch your transponder code, or change it too soon, you'll be cited with a violation."
Boyer also recapped AOPA members' record-breaking number of comments - 21,000 - filed against the FAA's notice of proposed rulemaking to make the ADIZ permanent. Now, the government has to read each individual submission.
Meanwhile, AOPA is working the congressional front, talking to the committees that fund the Transportation Security Administration and its enforcement procedures.
"AOPA will give you a full report on where we are on the ADIZ during our annual Fly-In on June 3," Boyer said. "And if you can't make it, look for it on our Web site and in AOPA ePilot."
When members asked Boyer about user fees, he told them how they could get involved in the fight: "Tell your congressional representative, 'We want to keep you in charge of funding the nation's safety transportation system.'"
Boyer also reiterated that AOPA does not want user fees in any segment of aviation - even in the airlines. Any fees that start with the airlines eventually will trickle down to general aviation.
"We will fight the user fee battle," Boyer pledged. "And you'll see it in the pages of our magazine for a long time."
April 7, 2006