In late October, AOPA staff unanimously agreed to recognize Walter G. “Wally” Boeck, ASN volunteer for Rancho Murieta Airport in California, for his outstanding efforts to promote, protect, and defend the airport.
As the leader of the Rancho Murieta Aviators—a group that has been meeting every Sunday for over a decade—Boeck’s name has been associated with a positive image of the airport. This summer, he took his commitment to spreading the joy of flight a step further by organizing an aviation summer camp for teens. Through the generosity of Boeck and local pilots, each camper enjoyed three flights—in a single-engine airplane, a twin-engine airplane, and a helicopter.
Campers were impressed by Boeck’s 20-plus years of service as a highly decorated fighter and test pilot in the Marine Corps. A few teens considering aviation maintenance careers were especially interested in Boeck’s restoration of his 1946 Globe Swift.
Last year, a plan to clear trees near the airport drew criticism from an environmentally-conscious segment of the community. In response, Boeck invited residents and the local media out to the airport for a nature walk to show how close the trees were to the airport, and how few trees needed to be removed. Later, local decision makers agreed safety was paramount and approved the tree removal, which helped lift the airport’s night operational restriction.
When residential encroachment threatened the airport, Boeck reached out to the community newspaper, local officials, and even the project’s developer to explain the impact of a proposal to build 208 homes less than 700 feet from the runway.
Boeck shared the development’s draft environmental impact report (prepared by the Sacramento County Department of Environmental Review and Assessment) with local pilots and encouraged them to submit comments criticizing the draft. He wrote an informative and persuasive letter to local officials, and then provided information to help AOPA draft two additional letters. At the time of this writing, the final environmental impact report was being drafted. Once complete, it will be forwarded to the County Board of Supervisors for a decision on the project.
AOPA staff were shocked and saddened to learn Wally Boeck died in an airplane accident on November 6, 2008. “Wally’s untimely passing is certainly a terrible tragedy for his loving family, but this loss also is felt deeply by his many friends in the Rancho Murieta general aviation community,” said ASN Director Jennifer Storm.
A new Internet-based flight planner, a campaign to boost the pilot population, and a new foundation were some of the key tools AOPA President Phil Boyer passed to incoming President Craig L. Fuller at AOPA Expo (“ That’s A Wrap”). And, for the first time, Fuller officially addressed AOPA members.
“Phil Boyer posted a heck of a lot of victories,” said AOPA Board of Trustees Chairman Bill Trimble. Boyer has successfully helped GA overcome the “greatest attack on our homeland since Pearl Harbor,” a federal government bent on instituting user fees, record-high avgas prices in 2008, and tragic general aviation accidents such as those involving John F. Kennedy Jr., Jessica Dubroff, and Cory Lidle.
“He works harder and smarter than anyone I know,” Trimble continued, calling Boyer “superb.” Trimble explained that Boyer has worked for the past year to defeat user fees and manage the transition to AOPA President Fuller, who leads the association starting January 1.
Boyer, who entered his last Expo general session as president of AOPA to a standing ovation, proceeded to fill a flight bag with resources and new AOPA initiatives that he is passing on to Fuller. The first tool for Fuller’s flight bag is the new AOPA Internet Flight Planner. He announced that AOPA teamed with Jeppesen to develop the new Internet-based flight planner, which will work on any computer, including Macs, from anywhere in the world. Because it is Internet-based, pilots will be able to see temporary flight restrictions in real time.
Another tool is a boost in AOPA membership. Boyer announced that the association will be partnering with Middle Tennessee State University, just as it is with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of North Dakota.
Perhaps the most important tool Boyer dropped into the flight bag was The AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. The foundation’s goal is to raise funds to help increase the pilot population, enhance the public image of GA, preserve community airports, and improve aviation safety (see “Building the Pillars,” page 26).
The AOPA Foundation is a little more than one year old, and $26 million has been raised toward its Campaign for GA goal of $58 million. The national chairman of the Campaign for GA, longtime AOPA member, GA pilot, and business owner Tom Haas, pledged a $5-million matching gift via video.
Let’s Go Flying, an AOPA initiative to boost the pilot population, was also dropped into Fuller’s flight bag. “Let’s Go Flying, on its Web site, doesn’t talk about ailerons and rudders,” Boyer said. “It talks about what you can do once you get your certificate.” (See “ Why Do You Look Skyward?”)
AOPA has been testing new ways to reach pilots. Funds donated to The AOPA Foundation have been used to offer Let’s Go Flying seminars at Pilot Town Meetings and flight-school fly-ins are also being sponsored.
Boyer passed on tools to keep airports strong (AOPA’s Airport Support Network), and an ongoing effort to find a replacement fuel for leaded avgas. While 70 percent of GA aircraft can fly on current unleaded fuels, 30 percent need a fuel with a higher octane rating.
Last, Boyer put an engraved nameplate in Fuller’s flight bag.
Fuller said that the flight bag reminded him of one he packed when moving to Washington, D.C., from his native California. It was during his eight years of service in the White House, from 1981 to 1989, that he developed a passion for public policy. Now, he’s ready to put that passion to work for his other great love—general aviation. “The chance to actually take this campaign around the country and build support and awareness for general aviation is exciting,” Fuller said. “My sense of mission is to make the future of general aviation as exciting as the past.”
Fuller has been a pilot for more than 40 years. He learned to fly at Buchanan Field in Concord, California, while still in high school, and continued to fly while a student at UCLA. Business travel in his early career led to the purchase of a Cessna 172RG Cutlass. Today, he regularly flies more than 200 hours a year in his Beechcraft A36 Bonanza and holds single, multiengine, and instrument ratings. He has been a member of AOPA since 1973. Fuller’s wife, Karen, frequently serves as his co-pilot in their Bonanza ( “ Pilot to Pilot: Craig L. Fuller”).
In a final attempt to prevent the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) from becoming permanent, AOPA recently met with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB, which is currently reviewing the FAA’s proposal to make the airspace permanent, is one of the last hurdles a proposal must clear before being implemented as a final rule.
“The Bush administration is set on pushing this rule through,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “We’re going to fight this until the very end.”
AOPA expects the Department of Transportation to publish the final rule just days before President-elect Barack Obama takes office.
Cebula proposed two alternatives to the permanent ADIZ, alternatives that AOPA has advocated for years. The first would allow an ADIZ to be established by notam any time security needed to be heightened. Another alternative would be shrinking the ADIZ to a 20-nm radius.
“Either action would improve general aviation health in the region,” Cebula told OMB officials, explaining that airports are under increased pressure to close, pilots no longer regularly fly into the D.C. metro area for business or personal travel, and many aircraft owners relocated their airplanes to airports outside the ADIZ or stopped flying.
“We also reminded OMB officials that the government has never presented a specific, intelligence-based threat assessment to justify the ADIZ,” Cebula said. “Nor has the government provided evidence or analysis demonstrating that the ADIZ results in any measurable increase in security.”
The FAA also is requiring that pilots who fly within 60 miles of the Washington, D.C., VOR/DME take special ADIZ awareness online training. Pilots who fly near the area must have completed the training by February 9, 2009.
“The government has made it too complicated, too complex for pilots,” Cebula said.
The FAA has released its 2009 Flight Plan, laying out priorities and goals for the new year, including some requested by AOPA.
AOPA had asked the FAA to actively support preserving and improving America’s general aviation airports, increasing all-weather access to GA airports, and finding an unleaded alternative to today’s low-lead avgas. The FAA’s Flight Plan addressed two of those concerns but failed to commit on the crucial issue of preserving and improving airports.
“The top concern for pilots—the need to maintain and improve existing GA airports—must be recognized by the FAA, especially as we transition to a new president of the United States,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “Without airports, the rest is irrelevant.”
In responding to the need for all-weather access, the FAA committed to develop and publish 500 GPS/WAAS approaches in 2009 but did not look further into the future. AOPA had asked the agency to publish 300 such approaches each year through 2013.
Draft versions of the Flight Plan did not include a commitment to pursue finding an avgas replacement; however, the final document indicated the FAA’s commitment through 2009 and beyond. To find a replacement for leaded avgas, the FAA promised to “continue working with the general aviation community to test, adopt, and certify a new aviation gasoline fuel standard.”
It’s been more than 35 years since Georgia opened a new airport, but that has now changed. Paulding County Regional recently opened with a 5,500-foot runway and the distinction of being the first public airport ever to open in Paulding County, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta. Paulding County Regional already has an AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer, John Betsill, who is actively promoting the airport and the economic benefits it will bring to the region as a much-needed GA reliever airport for the Atlanta area.
Property situated under the helicopter traffic pattern and less than 2,000 feet from the Runway 12/30 centerline at California’s San Carlos Airport will not be used for residential development. AOPA and local pilot organizations worked together to oppose the development proposal because it was inconsistent with the airport’s compatible land-use plan and could lead to noise complaints.
The San Carlos City Council will keep the land reserved for light industrial use, preventing two four-story residential buildings from being built so close to the airport.
Biddeford, Maine, residents have voiced their support for their airport loud and clear. A ballot referendum that would have closed Biddeford Municipal failed, with 82 percent of the votes in favor of keeping airport open.
“This was an outstanding response from the community to save its airport,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy. “AOPA’s Airport Support Network volunteer, Alan Lyscars, and Friends of Biddeford Airport pulled out all the stops to educate the community on the value and importance of their airport.”
The referendum asked residents to spend at least $3 million to close Biddeford Municipal Airport. The city put the referendum on the ballot because of noise complaints from neighbors close to the airport and allegations that the airport didn’t “pay its own way” in the community.
The day has arrived and you are ready to purchase an aircraft. First, take a few minutes to brush up on the process with 10 Tips for Financing Your Aircraft Purchase. Learn how important aviation financing experience is when you want to close your loan quickly, and find out what steps you should take before signing on the dotted line to avoid surprises at closing. For everything you need to know about financing an aircraft, visit the Web site or call 800-62-PLANE.
The Transportation Security Administration announced that it would extend the comment period on its controversial Large Aircraft Security Program proposal. Pilots and the aviation industry have until February 27, 2009, to consider the implications of the program and submit comments.
AOPA, the National Business Aviation Association, and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) all requested the extension.
“This proposal is an unprecedented move by the TSA into general aviation, and more time will help pilots understand and provide comments,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “The extension shows that the TSA is sensitive to the aviation community’s concerns.”
AOPA members are extremely concerned about the proposed security program because they fear its scope, which currently only affects aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, will gradually be extended to all of general aviation. Serious questions also surround why GA is being considered for these onerous requirements.
The proposal calls for flight crewmember criminal history records checks, watch list matching of passenger manifests, biennial third-party audits of each aircraft operator, and new airport security requirements.
Thanks to intervention from AOPA, the FAA is not going to require knowledge testing center employees to become FAA designees or set mileage requirements between centers.
The association strongly opposed a proposed order to make testing center employees become FAA designees because the process would have required days of travel and training for each employee.
AOPA also opposed changes to another order that would institute a mileage requirement between testing centers. The association argued that the number of centers in an area should be decided by market demand.
This summer, the FAA revoked administration privileges for nearly 160 knowledge testing centers that gave fewer than 25 tests during the past year. Since that time, AOPA has successfully worked with the FAA to get testing privileges reinstated for more than half of the centers that challenged the revocation.
With each passing year, GPS becomes a more integral part of general aviation cockpits. Indeed, with recent advances in display technology and the development of more sophisticated user interfaces, it’s rapidly bridging the gap between traditional avionics and fully integrated flight management systems.
That gradual but profound evolution in the role of GPS was the impetus for the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s brand-new safety seminar, GPS from the Ground Up. Starting its nationwide run in January, the seminar begins with a brief look at how the technology and presentation of GPS information has changed over the years. Then our experienced presenters move on to an in-depth examination of GPS in the context of overall flight management, giving real-world tips and advice for every phase of flight. They also examine some of the operational gotchas that have been known to trip pilots up. The approach is practical, avoiding too much focus on the minutia of button-pushing and individual receiver characteristics.
Even if your GPS experience is limited to punching “Direct” and following the line on the map, this is one seminar you shouldn’t miss. It’s free, and no registration is required. Look for the flier in the mail, or find the nearest location online.
As pilots we do our best to minimize the risks, but there’s still plenty that can go wrong in the cockpit. Mechanical problems, pilot error, weather trouble—you name it. But it’s one thing to read about the risks in a textbook, quite another to hear it from someone who’s “been there, done that.”
The distinction explains why ASF’s audio-visual Real Pilot Stories have become so popular. Each true story is a glimpse into a world of crisis that to most of us is (thankfully) something of an abstraction. Told in the pilot’s own voice and often illustrated with actual photos from the event, the stories include valuable insights and lessons from some truly harrowing situations.
Ranging from two to 12 minutes in length, Real Pilot Stories are a great way to step into another pilot’s shoes—and hopefully avoid similar situations yourself. Find them online.
Sometimes learning about flying is just a matter of memorization. That’s why ASF developed a series of aviation flash cards designed to give pilots a quick, easy, and fun way to learn (or review) the kinds of things they need to know quickly.
The front of each runway safety card displays a typical sign or marking, while the back identifies it, places it in context, and explains what action pilots should take. Each of the airspace flash cards features a chart excerpt highlighting a particular type of airspace, while the flip side includes a summary of all the important facts such as operating rules and characteristics, and pilot/aircraft requirements.
You can download the free cards at the ASF Web site, or request printed copies by calling 1-800-USA-AOPA.
Tentative schedule; visit the Web site for confirmed information.
Oregon: When homes are built too close to an airport, it’s referred to as residential encroachment. This increasingly common threat can lead to future noise complaints, and even airport closure. But what if pilots live in those homes? That is the case at Independence State Airport in Oregon, which benefits from a vibrant airpark community that boasts more than 200 residences.
Although pilots who call an airpark home are not likely to share typical nonpilot noise concerns, the FAA does not currently distinguish between traditional residential developments and airparks. For more than 34 years, the Independence Airpark community has thrived; however, recent correspondence from the FAA takes issue with the airpark’s through-the-fence (TTF) operations (residents have access to the airport’s taxiway even though their homes are technically located off airport property). Although not officially prohibited, the FAA strongly discourages TTF operations at federally funded airports because the operations make it difficult to comply with federal grant assurances—one of which is incompatible land use.
Many airparks avoid this issue because they are privately funded. Airports that have not accepted (or don’t intend to accept) federal funding are not required to abide by grant assurances.
Airpark resident and ASN volunteer Norm Farb has been working with local pilots and the Oregon Department of Aviation (which owns and operates the airport) to reach a mutually agreeable solution. To address one FAA concern—parity between on- and off-airport users—the airpark’s homeowner associations have agreed to continue paying a fair market value access fee.
If you live in an airpark (or are considering moving to one) that has access to a federally funded airport, read AOPA’s white paper on the topic.