The first of two ADIZ public meetings that AOPA had pushed for is set to start today at the Sheraton Hotel in Columbia, Maryland. The second is next week, January 18, at the Airport Marriott in Dulles, Virginia. AOPA President Phil Boyer is scheduled to speak at the second meeting.
And if some of the recent comments to the public docket - almost 20,000 of them so far - are any indication, the FAA and security agency officials - who've promised to be there - are going to get an earful about the failure of the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone.
Consider this example: The pilot had landed at his airport inside the ADIZ. He had jumped through all the right hoops, talked to all the right controllers. Nevertheless, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Blackhawk helicopter was dispatched to find him.
"After several passes [the Blackhawk] descended, landed, and four agents bailed out with machine guns. Myself and perhaps a hundred of my curious neighbors watched as they circled my tied-down 172," the pilot wrote in his comments.
He went up and identified himself to the armed agents.
"They said that ATC told the people who tell them to go after 'giant war birds' like my 172 that I had failed to communicate with ATC during my flight," he continues. "I told them politely that was pure B.S. I had flown outside the ADIZ on the flight and had re-entered after communicating and receiving a squawk code, communicated once during my flight and finally as I was landing. To this the agent said, 'G.D., this is the third time this week these guys ....up!' He said their unit was trying to find a way to back-charge expenses to the agency."
The Air Force veteran writing these comments said he used to fly 75 to 100 hours a year for business and pleasure. Since the FAA imposed the ADIZ, his flying had dropped to 10 hours a year.
"Now if this story doesn't cut into your desire to go flying, nothing will," he concludes. "The ADIZ does not work. It has not stopped a single enemy combatant. It has overtaxed ATC and caused an $11 million fiscal hardship on the taxpayer."
Both public meetings will begin at 1 p.m. and run until 4 p.m. The meetings will resume at 6:30 p.m. and go until 9 p.m.
While the speaker slots have been filled (pilots had to pre-register to be able to speak at the meetings), they are still open to anyone wishing to attend.
More importantly, you may still submit your written comments to the docket. More than 19,700 pilots have told the FAA and security agencies how they feel about making the ADIZ permanent or extending ADIZs to other areas of the country.
See AOPA's Member Action Center: Operation ADIZ for more information.
Updated: January 12, 2006, 10:37 a.m. EST