Congress and President Bush have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to report on steps for general aviation access to the DC-3 airports (College Park Airport, Washington Executive/Hyde Field, and Potomac Airport) and Reagan National to general aviation traffic. AOPA has continually emphasized the need for improving access to the three GA airports ever since the September 11 attacks. All three are located within the 15 nm no-fly zone around the nation's capital.
"While efforts to let corporate aviation back into Reagan National may often have grabbed the headlines, AOPA has never forgotten and never stopped fighting for the DC-3," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Nor have we forgotten the rest of the pilots in the Mid-Atlantic region who must cope with the Baltimore-Washington ADIZ (air defense identification zone), a security measure that in our opinion has long outlived its usefulness. We continue to push to have it rescinded.
"Between the ADIZ, the no-fly zone, and the security requirements imposed on pilots, the DC-3 airports have been crippled, threatening their very survival."
The report is required as part of the Homeland Security Appropriations Act, signed into law this week by President Bush. It requires the agencies to "report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations by March 1, 2005, on restoring access to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and other general aviation airports within 15 miles of DCA for security-qualified charter and general aviation operators."
"Just having the report ordered to study the DC-3 as well as Reagan National is helpful," said Boyer, "but only one step. Right now, only pilots based at the airports who've been through security background checks can use them. Unless the report's findings open up these three airports - the airports of choice for GA pilots visiting or doing business in the nation's capital - to outside aircraft, then the DC-3, which includes the nation's very first airport, established by the Wright brothers themselves, are still at risk of closing forever.
"AOPA is not done with this fight. The DC-3 are important airports for the Mid-Atlantic region and the nation," Boyer concluded. "Pilots deserve access to all airports in the National Airspace System."
October 20, 2004