L AKELAND, Fla. - Thousands of pilots rushed to sign the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's (AOPA's) petition opposing the FAA's funding proposal during the opening two days of Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Fla. The FAA's proposal would increase general aviation fuel taxes by nearly 350 percent and, for the first time in U.S. history, impose a pay-to-fly user fee system.
"This overwhelming response is hard evidence from the pilot community of what AOPA and the other aviation associations have been saying for two years - the vast silent majority of the aviation community does not and will not support the FAA scheme," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "We've had to order more of the petition forms because of the demand and the passion this issue has generated.
"Congress is already sitting up and taking notice," he continued. "The FAA and Administrator Marion Blakey need to as well."
Each petition is seven feet high and 15 feet wide with space for nearly 5,000 signatures. There are three posted around the Sun 'n Fun grounds. Visitors are arriving at Sun 'n Fun aware of the petition drive and actively seeking AOPA staffers to ask where the petitions are located. By the end of the first day, the petition posted next to AOPA's big yellow tent was nearly three-quarters full.
"We expect interest in the petition to grow as AOPA Day at Sun 'n Fun (Friday, April 20) approaches," said Boyer.
Boyer will explain in much greater detail the FAA funding scheme and the threat it poses to general aviation when he hosts a Pilot Town Meeting at Sun 'n Fun Thursday evening at 7:45 p.m.
With more than 411,000 members, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest aviation association. Since 1939, the association has been dedicated to defending the interests of general aviation through a commonsense approach that protects pilots from overly burdensome regulations while respecting the needs of the national air transportation system.
April 18, 2007