AirVenture Begins with Proactive Effort to Stop Privatized ATC

By Scott Spangler on July 24th, 2017

AV1-202Almost everywhere you turn among the hundreds of acres of airplanes and lovers of aviation are subtle (and no so subtle) signs that make it clear that the best way to improve the US Air Traffic Control (ATC) system is to “Modernize, Not Privatize.” It’s a message you can’t miss when walking through AirVenture’s main gate. And if you miss the big sign on the portable Jumbotron, it is on every bin that offers a free copy of EAA Sport Aviation and the show’s daily newspaper, AirVenture Today.

If people were not clear on the details, AirVenture Today included a four-page pullout in its Sunday edition that explained it all, And if you didn’t get the Sunday paper, there were stacks of them at every exhibit space manned by the general aviation organizations behind the effort, EAA, AOPA, NBAA, GAMA, HAI, and NATA.

AV1-186But the organizations’ effort is even more proactive. There is a squad of 25 sturdy young uniformed adults, each armed with an iPad. With the expanded Wi-Fi network, each iPad has a real-time connection to ATCNotforSale.com, that enables people to immediately transmit their displeasure over the possibility of a privatized ATC system by email, Tweet, and Facebook posting. And if they are not sure of all the myths and misinformation spread about the proposal, the site clears that up as well, starting with a powerfully concise video with Sully Sullenberger.

AV1-178The goal of the iPad warriors is to get 10,000 people to send their comments to their elected representatives by the end of AirVenture. The crowd of roughly 350 people who filled the Theater in the Woods Town Hall meeting about ATC Privatization – at 1130 on Monday – seriously spanked my skepticism. Usually, at this time of day, the theater is the refuge of the lame and sunstroked, not unhappy aviators looking for ways to save the activity that gives their lives purpose and meaning.

As the host, EAA’s Jack Pelton spoke first, followed by AOPA’s Mark Baker, NBAA’s Ed Bolen, and GAMA’s Pete Bunce. In turn, each of them evenly explained the consequences of a privatized air traffic control system on the the community of general aviators their organizations represented. What united them was the universal threat embodied in the House 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, aka HR 2997, which includes the provision that would separate ATC organization from the FAA.

Each speaker made it clear that the our elected officials will decide the future of general aviation in the next few months as this legislative bolus works its way through Congress. Its defeat is general aviation’s only hope, and we should achieve that goal if we consistently communicate with elected official with a unified voice. And you don’t have to be at AirVenture to pound out an iPad missive to your elected official. You can add your voice to the 10,000 sought after in Oshkosh at ATCNotforSale.com or through any other form of communication. – Scott Spangler, Editor

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