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Membership News & Notes: Talking to the FAA

Considering the big issues

AOPA doesn’t just fight issues at individual airports, we also engage with the FAA on policy issues that affect airports—and how we use them—all across the country.


AOPA doesn’t just fight issues at individual airports, we also engage with the FAA on policy issues that affect airports—and how we use them—all across the country.

• Fuel taxes must fund aviation. The FAA’s new rule on the use of state and local fuel tax revenues, saying that the money collected in aviation fuel taxes must be used for aviation purposes, is good for GA airports nationwide. The rule means money raised through aviation operations will be put to work for airports and aviation, instead of funding nonaviation activities. There’s been a lot of confusion over this issue, and AOPA is glad the FAA listened.

• Nonaeronautical uses of hangars. A lot of airport officials and even FAA staff have been misinterpreting the FAA’s guidance on hangar use. Your association has been talking to the agency about this for a while, and its new draft is a big step in the right direction to clarify the policy. Most pilots like to keep a few things in the hangar besides the airplane—some tools, a place to sit, a radio, maybe even a small refrigerator. But we need the FAA to go a bit further. Homebuilders should be able to build an aircraft in their hangar and benefit from the support they can receive on the airport.

• Exhaust plumes/energy facility siting policy. Safety is threatened near several airports because of nearby energy-generating facilities that create thermal plumes. AOPA has been working with the FAA’s Airport Obstructions Standards Working Group, and it’s important they complete their study on this issue and release the new Thermal Plume Evaluation Tool so that it can be put to use at planned facilities.

• Compatible Land Use Advisory Circular. The wrong land use adjacent to an airport can lead to closure threats or operational restrictions. The FAA Airport Planning and Programming Office’s new draft can give important guidance on incompatible land use to airport sponsors.

92% of AOPA members believe the FAA must make education a higher priority than increasing regulation.

Action in the states

Alabama: At the Alabama Airports Conference in Guntersville, AOPA Regional Manager Bob Minter met with airport and aviation officials to discuss opportunities to support GA. Alaska: AOPA Regional Manager Tom George is working with Alaska pilots to improve aviation weather reporting after the FAA closed observation sites in Chandalar Lake, Farewell Lake, Manley Hot Springs, Merrill Pass West, and Nebesna. Arizona: AOPA and the Arizona Pilots Association are working together to defeat a bill that threatens to raise fees on GA aircraft in the 2015 legislative session. Arkansas: Arkansas State Rep. Joe Jett and AOPA are planning a state GA Caucus event in 2015 after a meeting at the Arkansas Airport Operators Association Conference. California: Regional Manager John Pfeifer took part in the Association of California Airports’ annual conference. He is a member of the ACA board. Colorado: AOPA and Colorado aviation officials are working on an FAA-funded study about the sustainability of GA airports. Connecticut: AOPA was an honored guest at the Civil Air Patrol’s Northeast Region Conference where CAP New York celebrated winning an AOPA Foundation Giving Back Grant, money that will be used to support its cadet program and teach inner city youth about aviation. Delaware: Gov. Jack Markell announced the formation of the Delaware Business Aviation Association to serve as an independent voice for the industry. Florida: The Recreational Aviation Foundation and AOPA are working together on 2015 legislation to protect owners of private airfields from liability. Georgia: Gov. Nathan Deal declared October 2014 to be Aviation Appreciation Month. Hawaii: AOPA is reviewing a proposal to install a test wind farm three miles from the Waimea-Kohala Airport. Idaho: AOPA Regional Manager Dave Ulane discussed GA and airport issues with more than 200 regional airport and aviation professionals at the Northwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives annual conference in Boise. Illinois: Students at Southern Illinois University’s School of Aviation learned about the challenges facing the GA industry during a presentation from Regional Manager Bryan Budds. Indiana: AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro provided the Aviation Association of Indiana with an update on AOPA’s initiatives during its annual meeting in Florence. Iowa: AOPA Regional Manager Yasmina Platt reviewed plans for 2015 legislative initiatives in support of GA when the Iowa Office of Aviation and other stakeholders at the Four States Airport Conference. Kentucky: AOPA took part in the Kentucky Aviation Conference, where the future of unmanned aerial systems and the state’s GA airports were discussed. Louisiana: The Louisiana Airport Managers and Associates Conference brought together airport officials and pilots to focus on the challenges and opportunities for GA airports in the state. Maine: The website was recently launched to build community among GA pilots in the state. Maryland: AOPA’s regional managers gathered for their annual meeting at AOPA headquarters where they discussed advocacy efforts and pro-GA strategies for all 50 states. Massachusetts: AOPA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation are working to update an economic impact report on the state’s airports. Public airports in the state produce nearly $12 billion in annual economic activity. Michigan: AOPA testified before Michigan’s Senate Judiciary Committee on the importance of H.B.5178, legislation to provide liability protection for private airfield owners who open their fields to public use. Minnesota: AOPA is taking part in efforts to improve the state’s airport zoning regulations, recently participating in a meeting of the Minnesota Airport Zoning Advisory Group. Mississippi: According to a new study from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the state’s 73 airports are a significant economic engine, generating more than $2.5 billion in annual economic activity. Missouri: AOPA met with airport and aviation officials from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa at the Four States Airport Conference to talk about how to make airports friendlier and educate the public about their value. Montana: AOPA continues to work to mitigate the impact of the Powder River Special Use Airspace proposal, which would cover up to 28,000 square miles in Montana and surrounding states. Nebraska: Ronnie Mitchell, the director of the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics, met with AOPA Regional Manager Yasmina Platt to discuss protecting airports and welcoming newcomers to flying. Nevada: AOPA Regional Manager John Pfeifer is working with the Nevada Airports Association to have an allocation for the Nevada Aviation Trust Fund included in the next budget cycle. New Hampshire: High school students statewide have until March 6 to submit their original works of aviation art on the theme of “celebrating flight” to a juried competition sponsored by the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire. New Jersey: At a meeting with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Coalition, AOPA discussed plans for legislation that would improve aviation tax policies. New Mexico: AOPA Regional Manager Yasmina Platt attended the Land of Enchantment Fly-In in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Aviation Conference, and Ruidoso’s Fly-In, to talk about local and national issues affecting GA. New York: AOPA took part in the New York Aviation Management Association’s annual conference, held in Syracuse, to discuss issues affecting GA in the state. North Carolina: Members of the Charlotte Aero Club organized a fly-out to the final AOPA Fly-In of 2014, in St. Simons, Georgia. North Dakota: The University of North Dakota’s Student Aviation Management Association is working with AOPA to plan an event that will bring students together with GA leaders. Ohio: AOPA is serving as a member of the project advisory committee for an ongoing Ohio Airports Focus Study aimed at providing the Ohio Department of Transportation and the FAA with a better understanding of the state’s airport system. Oklahoma: AOPA is supporting the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission’s proposal to mark and register meteorological evaluation towers. Pennsylvania: Pro-aviation legislators worked with AOPA to amend a state property tax bill in order to maintain a sales-and-use-tax exemption for aircraft parts and labor. Rhode Island: Regional Manager Sean Collins was the guest speaker at a Rhode Island Pilots Association dinner and took part in the annual conference of the National Association of State Aviation Officials, held at T.F. Green Airport. South Carolina: AOPA was among the exhibitors at the Southeast Aviation Expo in Greenville, an event that brought together pilots, industry leaders, and government officials to celebrate GA. South Dakota: Representatives from AOPA have scheduled a meeting with Gov. Dennis Daugaard and are preparing updated information on the role and value of GA in the state. Tennessee: The Southeast Chapter of the Ninety-Nines hosted AOPA Regional Representative Bob Minter to discuss the future of GA and AOPA’s efforts to grow the flying community. Texas: The Texas Agricultural Aviation Association and AOPA are collaborating to prepare legislation that would require the marking and registration of meteorological evaluation towers. Utah: State Aeronautics Director Pat Morley met with AOPA to discuss Class G airspace changes in Utah and other western states. Virginia: AOPA met with the head of the Virginia Department of Aviation to discuss opportunities to collaborate on state aviation issues. Vermont: Vermont Tech is the first college in the United States to offer training in multiengine seaplanes, thanks to the addition of a Twin Seabee donated to the school’s Professional Pilot Technology program. Washington: The challenges facing GA airports were the focus of a meeting at the Washington State Community Airport Association’s annual conference in Leavenworth. West Virginia: Sikorsky Aircraft has unveiled its S–97 Raider. The high-speed helicopter’s airframe will be fabricated in Bridgeport, West Virginia. Wisconsin: AOPA is working with members of the Wisconsin Airport Management Association to plan the Sixtieth Annual Wisconsin Aviation Conference in May. Wyoming: At the Wyoming Airport Operators Conference in Laramie, AOPA Regional Manager David Ulane delivered a presentation on AOPA’s advocacy efforts and discussed local challenges with participants.

Kansas: Regional Manager Yasmina Platt and Airport Support Network Director Joey Colleran flew 700 nm to 10 airports over three days sharing information about Kansas aviation and GA with more than 600 schoolchildren in the 2014 Fly Kansas Air Tour (

Oregon: Regional Manager Dave Ulane was a keynote speaker at the Oregon Pilots Association convention in Eugene.

AOPA Finance: Planning to buy an aircraft?

When a pilot makes the decision to buy an airplane, the first question that needs to be answered is, “How are you going to pay for it?” AOPA Aviation Finance can make the process as painless as possible.

First you need to decide which airplane—and the more specific, the better. “Terms, down payment, and the interest rate all vary depending on what airplane you want to buy,” said AOPA Senior Credit Analyst Brian Macbean. Second, how do you intend to use the aircraft? If it’s going to be leased back to a flying club or there will be some charter usage—versus strictly personal or business flying—it makes a big difference to the lenders.

AOPA offers an online, simplified application. Lenders will want to see two years of tax returns and W-2s as well as a current year-to-date income statement (such as your latest paycheck stub). An aircraft loan typically takes a couple days for all the approvals. “It can be faster,” says Macbean, “but the lenders need to do a complete credit review.

“We have more than a dozen lenders that specialize in understanding airplanes. They know the market,” Macbean said. “Every lender is a bit different; some are stricter, so we know where you’ll be approved.”

Visit the website or call 800-62-PLANE (75263) to determine which loan works best for you.

When you rely on AOPA Aviation Finance, you’re supporting AOPA and protecting your freedom to fly, supporting the GA infrastructure, and helping grow the pilot population.

It’s good to know you!

When Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) recently learned that there were more than 600 AOPA members in his district, he wanted to meet some of them. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Butch Roberson quickly stepped up and organized a low-key gathering of pilots based at Aiken Municipal Airport.

It was a great success, thanks to Roberson’s dedication to the airport and its pilots. Organized and always involved, Roberson worked with fellow pilots to set up a reception that was well received by the congressman. Among the many topics on which the pilots were able to voice their stance was the important third class medical reform bill currently before Congress. After learning more about the issue during the reception, Wilson announced that he would be supporting the bill and would add his name as a co-sponsor to the legislation.

Roberson has served as the ASN volunteer at Aiken since 2006 and continues to be an important part of a program that serves as the eyes and ears of airport advocacy, and his help in making the meeting happen just shows his dedication and willingness to go above and beyond in support of keeping GA alive.

Which elected officials represent your airport? Federal, state, or local, it’s good to know them.

Insurance Services: Like father, like son

A Cessna 172 creates a bond

MNN“I came into this world with the flying bug from my father,” says retired U.S. Air Force Col. Jim Kerr. His father, John, was a private pilot who flew as a passion and a hobby. He earned his private certificate on December 7, 1941, and later—as a recent college graduate—was involved with the Manhattan Project. “He was doing research at Oak Ridge Laboratory in Tennessee,” says his son, “and he was sworn to secrecy.”

Kerr’s father took him for an airline trip in a Convair when he was three years old, again when he was five, and once more when he was nine. “My father was my biggest mentor and supporter,” adds Kerr, who took lessons when he was 15 and soloed on his seventeenth birthday. He earned his pilot certificate before his driver’s license. “The only reason I got my driver’s license,” he says, “is that my father told me he was tired of driving me to the airport.”

Kerr had a 38-year Air Force career, flying everything from Huey helicopters to the C–141, KC–135, KC–10, and others. “I had a very wonderful and rich career.”

His father had purchased a Cessna 172 that had been used as a demonstrator. Almost new, the airplane was a 1980 model with just 160 hours on it. When his father decided it was time to retire from flying, he gave the Cessna 172 to his son. “The airplane was in pristine condition. It was always hangared and treated with great care. In fact, it still has its original paint,” he says.

When it came time to insure the 172, the Kerrs called AOPA Insurance Services. “AOPA is like a good doctor; you want someone you can grow old with who knows your history,” the younger Kerr says. “Just like my father, I enjoy working with AOPA; they’re like family.”

Answers for Pilots: Weight and balance issues—and your health

Stepping on the scale in January can be discouraging. Pilots with diabeties face the scale on two fronts as holiday foods also wreak havoc on blood glucose levels. However, diabetics treated with oral medications who have the condition under control can obtain a special issuance medical under the current guidelines.

For pilots with a condition referred to as “pre diabetes,” there’s even better news: The FAA now has a process known as CACI (conditions aviation medical examiners can issue) that allows aviation medical examiners to issue medical certificates at the time of an office visit.

Read more about this in January’s online Answers for Pilots. If you have questions, please give the aviation technical specialists in the Pilot Information Center a call at 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672), Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time.

No matter your needs, AOPA Insurance Services has the right policy for you. For more information or to apply for a policy, visit the website or call 1-800-622-2672. You may earn a 5-percent discount just for being an AOPA member.

Need a New Year’s resolution? Don’t wait another day. Join fellow philanthropists who are funding AOPA Foundation initiatives this year.

Air Safety Institute: Get on the same page with ATC

MNNThe Air Safety Institute’s popular “Ask ATC” video series is a clever way to get a firsthand glimpse of how air traffic controllers handle common pilot requests during VFR and IFR flights. In the videos, controllers explain the benefits of ATC services, which improve our situational awareness in the air and on the ground—and what we can do to avoid unnecessary mishaps by knowing how to use and when to ask for services—from basic transponder operations to IFR flight plan filing to declaring an emergency.

For example, when you file a VFR flight plan will controllers know your route? Do you know how to request and receive “VFR on top”? What should you expect when transitioning through different airspace while you are receiving flight following? “Ask ATC” answers these questions and more.

Review the videos before your next flight so you’ll be well-equipped to work with ATC anytime you need to ask for their help. Whether it’s a routine flight or you’ve encountered a potential problem, the reassuring voice at the other side of the mic will provide assistance and help guide you through the situation.

Developed in collaboration with the Air Safety Institute and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), “Ask ATC” offers a perfect opportunity to venture beyond its radar scopes. Ask ATC! You’ll be glad you did. Visit the website.

Watch ‘Icing Encounter’ to see why ice is not nice

With a brand-new instrument rating in his wallet and family on board his Cessna 172, Heath Wells expected to comfortably complete the flight across central Pennsylvania. But Mother Nature had other plans that almost spoiled the day. As the ground was rising toward the cloud layer, Wells—with the help of air traffic controllers—ended up declaring an emergency while trying to divert to better conditions. Had he taken enough time to get a thorough weather briefing and check pireps before launching on this trip? Icing Encounter ponders those questions and illustrates why you need to avoid icing conditions, especially in an aircraft without approved deicing capability. If flying iced-up, inverted, and heading for the trees is not on your bucket list, watch this real pilot story to learn why ice will cripple your airplane’s performance and interfere with the flight’s safety.

ASI’s winter seminar coming to your area in January 2015

‘After the Crash: Surviving an Aircraft Accident’

Whether we plan a short flight or long cross-country, are we truly prepared for an in-flight emergency resulting in an off-airport landing? Considering the millions of general aviation flights every year, only a few will end off-airport, so it’s understandable that we expect the odds of a crash to be slim. However, the potential consequences of one are harsh—which is why smart pilots prepare and take basic precautions.

That’s where ASI’s new seminar comes to your rescue. From route planning and emergency rations to signal mirrors and satphones, the seminar presenters take a user-friendly, common-sense approach to maximize your chances of survival and rescue after a crash. You’ll find out about:

• The essential ingredients of a good survival kit

• Simple but effective ways to help searchers find you

• The first steps you should take after a crash

• Survival strategies while awaiting rescue

Visit the website for dates and locations near you.

Pilot Protection Services: Before you see the AME

Six tips for your next flight physical

Over the past months that I have been performing FAA aviation medical examinations, it has become clear to me that many pilots are woefully unprepared for their FAA medical examination. So, here are some pointers that you will want to consider before you see your aviation medical examiner.

Don’t forget that you must now complete the FAA MedXpress application online. This is the medical history portion of the examination and must be done prior to seeing your AME. It can be done up to 60 days prior to your flight physical.

Make sure if you are a student pilot that when you complete the application, you check the box for Airman and Student Pilot Examination—or at least inform the AME that this is your first FAA examination.

Above all, be truthful when you provide the information on the application. The FAA takes very seriously any intentional falsification of a federal legal document, and that includes the airman medical application.

If you are taking any medications, check AOPA’s accepted medications database ( to see if the medication is acceptable. If it isn’t acceptable, or you don’t see the medication listed, call the AOPA Pilot Information Center’s medical certification specialists.

It is not necessarily the medication that may be a problem, but the condition for which the medication is taken. So check in advance to find what the certification issues are with any medical condition you have.

One of the most important questions, and the one that provides potential pitfalls for many airmen, is question 18(v). This question asks if there have ever been any alcohol or drug-related events that resulted in an arrest, conviction, or administrative action. Know its implications and answer honestly.

Dr. Warren O. Silberman is the former manager of FAA Aerospace Medical Certification and a doctor of osteopathic medicine. A pilot since 1986, he is recognized nationally as an expert in aerospace/preventive medicine, and is a regular writer for AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services.

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