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Strong Opposition

EAAers to voice objections at Chicago hearing

January 15, 2009 — The general-aviation community continues to rally in opposition to the Transportation Security Administration’s proposed security requirements for all aircraft exceeding 12,500 lbs. The agency will hold its third public hearing on the matter Friday, January 16, in Chicago, and two very concerned EAAers will be on hand to object on behalf of the EAA community.

Sean Elliott, EAA’s director of aircraft operations and member of EAA’s government-relations team, warns about the potential implications not only for EAA’s historic aircraft tours, but also for every participant in general aviation. According to Elliott, the proposed restrictions entail extensive security vetting of all passengers before each flight. He asserts that the restrictions overestimate general aviation’s security threat, unduly impinge on personal liberties, and represent a first step in the Department of Homeland Security’s obviously telegraphed campaign to apply security restrictions to the operation of all aircraft, regardless of weight.

In the immediate term, the proposed restrictions would heap an onerous bureaucratic burden on EAA’s programs using large aircraft to inspire others and impart history. “The requirement for advance vetting of passengers significantly complicates our ability to serve walk-up customers attracted by the sight of a unique and historic aircraft approaching the local airport. Keeping up with the passenger-manifest requirements would be unwieldy at best,” Elliott said. “These security requirements, including those with which our host airports would also have to comply, would diminish the flexibility of our operation, making it a very cumbersome proposition.”

Elliott shared additional views in a videotaped interview shortly before departing from Oshkosh today to attend tomorrow’s hearing in Chicago.

The President of the EAA Warbirds of America, Rick Siegfried, will join Elliott there. He’ll represent the roughly 6,200 EAA Warbirds of America members who fly restored ex-military aircraft, many of which exceed 12,500 lbs. He plans to stress that these decommissioned aircraft pose no threat and are instead valuable artifacts from our nation’s rich military aviation history.

“Our war veterans and members are struck by the incongruity between the values and liberties that they fought to defend and the government’s attempts to severely limit their freedoms today,” Siegfried said. “Some of these individuals have been flying around the country in aircraft that defended our freedoms, using the aircraft to tell their story, share their history, and inspire Americans to understand the value of the freedoms for which veterans fought and sacrificed. Ironically, the proposed restrictions and requirements would strip these same individuals of the freedoms for which they had fought.”

Siegfried added that complying with the proposed rules would also impose considerable costs on many of the owners and operators of these historic aircraft.

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