Message From Tom Poberezny
February 15, 2007 — This past week FAA supplied a one-two punch that could have a huge effect on the freedom of flying. First, it introduced its budget plan that included sharply higher fuel taxes on the airplanes we fly and the specter of additional user fees, which EAA and other general aviation groups will continue to fight.
However, I want to discuss another matter that speaks to the heart of who we are as EAA members and what aviation means to us. The new air tour rule unveiled this month includes language that could be extremely harmful to EAA?s Young Eagles program. This program has flown nearly 1.3 million young people since 1992 and is a cornerstone of not only EAA?s mission, but the future of aviation as well.
Through the years, FAA has been a partner in creating an environment where the Young Eagles program could succeed - so successfully, in fact, that it has become the largest youth education program in aviation history! It has introduced hundreds of thousands of young people to the world of flight who otherwise might never have had the opportunity. A significant number of them, as you?ve seen in EAA?s communications, have entered aviation as their own vocation or recreation.
Under the new air tour rule, however, the viability of Young Eagles would be severely curtailed. The rule would limit what aircraft could be used for Young Eagles flights, with additional restrictions on pilot qualifications and frequency of Young Eagles activities. While the FAA likely didn?t mean to have such a devastating affect on this great program that introduces aviation to young people - without a dime of government funding, we should mention - the air tour rule has created the current ominous situation.
We are engaged in daily dialogue with FAA, but we don?t yet have all the answers on the rule?s immediate ramifications on Young Eagles. I am personally leading EAA?s efforts in this matter, including a trip to Washington next week to meet with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. The Administrator and her team have been staunch advocates of Young Eagles, sport pilot and other programs that build aviation?s future. EAA respects this solid working relationship. I will ask the Administrator to address this issue in a manner that preserves the vitality of Young Eagles, and we will keep you updated on the results of these efforts as they develop.
Each of us who have flown Young Eagles knows the personal satisfaction received from flying young people. We realize we are planting seeds that could blossom in untold ways in the future. That?s why this program is so important.
This issue, along with user fees and other aviation issues that EAA addresses daily, is why your EAA membership and involvement are so important. Flying brings us joy, fulfillment, and accomplishment. We work hard on your behalf to preserve these values. Your support as a member is appreciated.