AOPA Project Pilot spokesman Erik Lindbergh asked AOPA members to help give the pilot population a boost.
Speaking in front of the AOPA Big Yellow Tent at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida, on April 19, Lindbergh also reminded pilots of the vision of his grandparents, Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who believed that aviation and technological advances could also serve to preserve and protect the environment.
Asking for all pilots to join AOPA and to mentor new pilots, Lindbergh said, "We need more votes - us as a planet, us as pilot community - so that future generations can fly and experience the quality of life that we experience here and now."
He said that AOPA Project Pilot was key to engaging a new generation of fliers. "You don't need to be an instructor, just help them through the process," Lindbergh said. "There are a lot of competing things out there, a lot of apathy, but if we can light the spark, that's all it takes. It will grow from there. People will realize their dreams because it is possible."
Lindbergh also criticized the FAA/airline-backed funding bill that would increase GA fuel taxes and add new user fees.
Recalling his transatlantic flight in 2002 commemorating his grandfather's achievement, Lindbergh said that while he was over the ocean and out of VHF radio range with air traffic control, he asked an Air Canada flight to relay a deviation request to Shannon, Ireland, air traffic control, to avoid towering cumulus clouds that were rapidly developing into thunderstorms. He was granted the amended clearance. And three months later, he received a bill for 80 Euros (about $109) for the ATC service.
"How would that affect safety? How's that going to affect the decision-making process?" Lindbergh asked. "If an approach is in doubt, are you going to do a missed [approach] if it's going to cost you 50 bucks?"
Many European countries charge a fee for every instrument approach. Prudent instrument pilots will break off an approach - "go missed" - if they don't have a clear view of the runway environment when reaching minimums or are uncomfortable with the progress of the approach.
AOPA believes that if any user fees are introduced for any segment of aviation, those fees will eventually trickle down to GA, just as they have in Europe and other countries.
April 19, 2007