by Earl Lawrence, EAA Vice President of Industry and Regulatory Affairs
I recently reviewed an article written by EAA founder Paul Poberezny in 1972 where he reflected on government advocacy challenges. His comments are as true today as they were then. He asked readers if they understood “the amount of time it would take to become conversant on all the local, state, and federal laws our governments are preparing and attempting to apply, or that are passed each month and year?”
Like Paul, I see a constant flow of laws, rules, regulations, and policies at all levels of government that affect our ability to participate in aviation. With the addition of new agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, and new rules such as sport pilot, the government has grown just as everything else has, including the EAA. We now have the speed of the Internet with blogs, web pages, Twitter, and so many more communication channels. However, even with all the technological and government changes, one thing has not changed: the need for members to share their concerns with our government leaders. As Paul stated, “a well-thought-out personal letter will get more mileage” than any other way of communicating.
Speaking of communication, the media play a large role, both good and bad. Recently, I wrote a response to a misleading newspaper article about a fatal special light-sport aircraft accident. Since writing that response, I have received several positive e-mails from members; I greatly appreciate your supportive comments. This accident and the publicity surrounding it resulted in many people questioning the safety of recreational flying. It prompted calls for new restrictions on pilots and aircraft. EAAers fly all kinds of aircraft certificated in many different categories, including experimental amateur-built, experimental exhibition, experimental LSA, special LSA, and standard category. It is important for all of us to understand the certification, rules, and limitations of the aircraft category in which we each fly and then abide by those rules. When our fellow aviators operate their aircraft outside of the limitations for a given category, we are challenged to defend the privileges we have earned.
Your EAA staff is continually working to arm you with information on all of the current advocacy issues. One way we do this is with the information provided on the EAA government advocacy home page found at www.EAA.org/govt. If you have not visited it recently, please do and let us know what you think. Are there other ways we can arm you to support aviation?