Death, Taxes, and Trying to Avoid

Well, there’s no way around it. Some of the services I use when I am flying are provided by the Federal Government. The government appears to be controlled these days by larger interests than just the common citizen, so the airline industry is trying to get the FAA to impose “user fees” on little planes.

The budget for the FAA, including current funding sources, works. It is just the FAA responding to pressure from the airline lobbying group which says that little planes should shoulder more costs. Or, more accurately, that fees to use the system should be introduced which will discourage use. The airlines would rather they were the only planes up there.

I wrote to my senator. I expect to be ignored, but I wrote anyway.

Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
fax: 415-956-6701


I fly a small plane out of Santa Monica’s municipal airport (KSMO, if you are looking for it on charts). I received my private pilot certificate from the FAA in October of 2005. Since then I have also gotten my instrument rating, to make me a safer and better pilot.

I fly for business, since I am an architect with some projects in Las Vegas. So I commute between Nevada and California. The small (four seats, one propeller) plane allows me to spend only a few hours in Las Vegas before returning home to California, where I reside, pay taxes, and vote.

I also fly for pleasure, carrying my little family of four up to Napa Valley or to Monterey so that my two little boys can see this great state and we can enjoy all it has to offer.

I am a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. The organization recently brought to my attention a ridiculous fuel tax increase in the FAA’s planned budget. It will rise from twenty cents a gallon to seventy cents a gallon. This would really hurt my flying budget, probably limiting the trips I could take with my family. (I would continue to fly for business and pass the cost increase on to my clients.)

Most importantly you should reject the FAA’s request for air traffic user fees for any segment of aviation. Not only is this a clear step toward priviatizing the system, but it will make aviation less safe; there are pilots who should use Air Traffic Control who would be further discouraged from doing so. Corey Lidle, a California resident, was reluctant to speak to ATC and the FAA is suggesting an environment where pilots (especially beginners, especially those who don’t fly often) would be further discouraged from contacting ATC.

The United States has the world’s safest air space and handles more than six times the traffic of the next largest ATC service organization. There is nothing “broken” about the current funding system. The existing system will continue to fund operations without any deficit.

Please agree to oppose this plan, and to work with AOPA and others in the general aviation community to develop a reasonable and balanced plan for financing the FAA and modernizing the air traffic control system.


Colin Summers

cc: Phil Boyer, AOPA fax 301-695-2372

About Colin Summers

I am an architect, programmer, private pilot, husband and father. A couple of those I am good at.
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