This week, two major national newspapers - USA Today and Roll Call, the primary newspaper on Capitol Hill - will run an ad produced by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Appearing in the newspapers on May 18, the ad sends an important message: Thousands of pilots fly every day without violating the complex airspace restrictions established after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. One pilot who made a mistake should not tarnish the image of general aviation (GA).
"The ad is part of AOPA's ongoing effort to correct the many errors about GA that have appeared in news reports since a Pennsylvania pilot and his passenger - a student pilot - penetrated restricted airspace around the nation's capital in their Cessna 150 on May 11," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
The ad is an attempt to provide perspective to the non-flying public, pointing out, "Seven days ago, one very small airplane created a very large incident that disrupted lives in Washington, D.C., and made millions of people, already on edge, very nervous. It also created unnecessary concern and skepticism about 'those little planes.'"
The ad also highlights what went right during the incident, while explaining that small GA airplanes are not a security threat and that pilots are - with very few exceptions - extremely well informed.
Many of AOPA's efforts to inform and educate pilots about airspace restrictions are highlighted in the ad. For example, AOPA has sent almost 5 million e-mail messages alerting pilots to temporary flight restrictions (TFR) that could affect their flight plans. The association also provides its members with free access to AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner that graphically depicts flight restrictions. In addition, AOPA and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation have provided pilots with online tutorials, in-person seminars, and Pilot Town Meetings with Boyer.
"AOPA will continue our work to educate and inform general aviation pilots and advocate on their behalf," the ad concludes. "Because keeping general aviation pilots, airplanes, and airports safe are important efforts in maintaining our freedom to fly. And keeping the nation secure protects the freedom of all."
The more-than-404,000 members of AOPA make up the world's largest civil aviation association. AOPA is committed to striking a common-sense balance that fulfills national security needs while protecting aircraft owners and pilots from overly burdensome regulations.
May 17, 2005