No User Fees for GA … Yet

By Robert Mark on May 6th, 2012

I was trying to explain some of the subtleties behind the word altruism to my daughter this morning at breakfast, and it made me think about the fight against aviation user fees.

And yes, we have a few truly interesting family meals around our house. Those dine-ins are, in fact, a large part of what my wife and I see as our responsibility as parents, to sit down at least a couple of times each week to find out what’s happening with our family in general, especially our daughter. We don’t know for sure they help, but we believe in the process enough to make the effort.

Altruistic deed-doers make the effort because they believe it’s the right move for their family or their community. And they don’t expect a reward at the other end for their labors either.

Politics, Politics

In the U.S. we’ve begun the ramp-up to our November presidential elections, that time when everyone tries to convince us we should let them keep their job for another few years. Last time around I voted for Mr. Obama, but he’s not proven himself to be any more of a friend to aviation than his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Not long ago, the White House decided aviation wasn’t paying nearly enough money, cash desperately needed to fund the NextGen ATC system, a boondoggle that is decades behind schedule and billions over budget. Mr. Obama’s crew decided that charging the airlines and business aviation a $100 fee per flight segment will make a dent in the debt. What they haven’t yet explained to anyone is precisely how that will work.

The White House also believes the FAA bureaucracy needs a new department to accept this cash, betting it will function better than the current fuel tax system that’s been working well for decades. They haven’t provided the specifics behind this conclusion either.

Think back for a moment, to the days after 9/11, when the TSA began its fiscal gluttany, measured annually in billions, and then look a few years into the future. No one believes we need a new system, assuming of course the fees are justified.

Right now, little airplanes don’t need to worry about user fees though. For the time being, the White House is only after the airlines and business aviation. Trust me though, if user fees are assessed here in the U.S., we might well end up with a GA community like Australia, where the fees to fly are enormous.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

So here’s your chance to do something good for the industry. Click over to this We the People page at the White House and sign a petition we put together with the folks at the General Aviation Airports Coalition. If we reach the magic 25,000 signature mark, the White House promises to explain the math behind their user-fee plan–and WHY we need a new FAA office, and how it will be better than the fuel tax system.

I know some skeptics believe we shouldn’t ask these questions because we might not like the answers. That’s a possibility, but I believe in holding the White House to the pledge of transparency that Mr. Obama made in 2008. I for one believe we have a better chance of defending our industry when everyone puts their cards on the table. Otherwise, we’re simply sticking our heads in the sand and hoping this problem goes away.

And it won’t.

So please take a minute and forward this story — or this link to the petition — to your mailing list. Please do it today and join the 4,000 people who have already signed. We must reach 25,000 by May 15.

So am I being a little naive about how it all works? Perhaps. But I’m also willing to raise my hand and say enough. Will you?

If we small airplane folks don’t support business aviation and the airlines this time around, GA user fees won’t be far behind.

Rob Mark, publisher



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52 Responses to “No User Fees for GA … Yet”

  1. Louis H. Ray Says:


    I tried to sign the petition and my account was locked out. The site no longer accepts my password and will not allow me to recover or change it.

    My requests for assistance have also gone unanswered, so I guess they really do not want the petition signed!

    Louis H. Ray

  2. bob McDonald Says:

    Make this petition easier to sign !

  3. Jim Klick Says:

    I am having problems signing the petition too. I have an account already, but when I try to sign in to sign the petition it sends me to the page to update my profile. After three tries it tells me the page is under repair.
    Tiat could be why there have been so few signatures.

  4. Robert Mark Says:

    I really am sorry about the my friends. I can’t tell you how much work I went through to build the petition in the first place because we had trouble with the We The People site.

    Let me see what I can do. Unfortunately I don’t have control of the White House site … of course, I’m not sure they do either.


  5. Robert Ball Says:

    It took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to even login and Sign the petition. I was able to do so but it is no wonder there are not very many signatures. What a pain in the…

  6. Glenn Shubert Says:

    Mr. Mark,
    You voted for Obama????? You voted for “change” with no idea what that change would be. Just like the Russians in 1915, the Germans in the 30’s and the Cubans in the 50’s, you are seeing that “change” isnt working out so well. Thank you for helping to put in power the worst president ever. His goal was to turn USA into a 3rd world country and he is suceeding according to plan. Our freedom to fly and/or do virtually anything we Americans are used to is in jeapardy because of you morons who put this idiot in power. Sorry I can not support your organization. If this Idiot gets re-elected we are doomed.
    Glenn R Shubert

  7. Robert Mark Says:

    Doomed eh?

    Sounds like we’d better start painting some signs …

    How does that go … “The End is Near”

  8. Charlie Buchanan Says:

    If we do not get a good showing here, it will turn against us. A low turnout will be proof enough that very few people care – let the hundred-dollar bill begin to flow.

  9. Kathleen Curreri Says:

    Thank you Glenn!!! I could not have said it any better myself. I am going to enjoy flying while I can. Unfortunately, I do not have much faith in the American voting public any more, and fear that we might just get 4 more years of “change”. When our freedoms get further restricted, and flying becomes cost prohibitive and over-regulated, I’m not even sure I’ll find someone to buy my airplane!!

  10. drrichard Says:


    While I’m disgusted with the user fees I voted for Obama, and will gladly do so again. Rich, stone cold multimillionaires have looted this country since their moronic puppet Reagan came into office. And Bush and Cheney were simply murderous liars. Democrats have huge problems, but at least they seem to somewhat care about the majority of people in this country.

  11. Jabe Wills Says:

    I truly wanted to sign that petition but, apparently like many others, was prevented from doing so for lack of a password and registration. I tried to recover password but to no avail. Am sure this makes it considerably more pleasant for the govt. wonks who don’t want to hear criticism or response.

  12. What Haveyou Says:

    Nice tirade “Glenn”, but where were you when the previous idiot destroyed our standing on the planet, our economy, and our future?

  13. Barbara Fey Says:

    User fees will kill general aviation…and as you know, it is one of the remaining American Industries. Aviation services for business, pleasure and travel are critical since commercial air travel has turned into such a negative experience.

    Do not inflict user fees .
    Barbara J. Fey President-Interiors Two
    Custom Aircraft Interiors

  14. Howard N LaPierre Says:

    User fees will destroy General AViation as we know it, as it has in every country that imposes them on the users.

    With fuel taxes, the bigest users pay the most.
    Why should a C150 user pay the same as a 747

    With fuel taxes, we pay for what we use. I rarely use the system. so I don’t cost them anything

  15. Charlie Wilmot Says:

    @what have you says; GWB was not perfect, that’s for sure, but he didn’t put us over 5 trillion in debt in 3.5 years. Obama is a radical, socialist bent on the destruction of America as we know it. He excoriates capitalism and business aviation while riding around in Air Force One as his personal campaign jet on MY DIME and that pisses me off as a corporate pilot. God help us if that man is reelected, we can’t handle 4 years of a lame duck (read nothing to lose) OBA-MAO presidency.

    @drrichard; can I assume you’re a doctor? Are you happy with ObamaCare? No, you’re probably not a medical Dr, everyone of those I’ve spoken with think ObamaCare is the worst thing ever for our country. You’re probably a liberal college professor teaching community organizing in Chicago if you can’t admit that ObaMAO is a complete waste of skin and oxygen thief. Capitalism works, rich people are not evil and already pay the lions share of taxes, “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” and you have it bad sir!


    Plase no user fees.

  17. Leroy Pearl Says:

    Every one in GA knows The result, we just cant
    get those Hard Heads up in Washington to listen
    we need to replace all those representaves including those in the senate this year and the next two years and make sure we have our votes felt and heard Finally.

  18. Neill Northington Says:

    It is impossible to sign this petition. I have a log in, and when I go to the petition, after logging in, the Sign button is greyed out. The White House doesn’t want you to sign.

    You are a sucker for trusting this regime in the first place.

  19. Carl Stahl Says:

    I tried to sign the petion also and could not get any good results. Is this set up this way to control input?

  20. Mike Howard Says:

    Hey Haveyou (and any others who agree)…

    I’ve got a new idea for you! How about this: Just because I don’t like what Obama or the Dems are doing, doesn’t mean I (or anyone else) like what the Republicans did.

    Another one: Just because I don’t like Obama, and think he’s tearing this country apart, doesn’t mean I think Bush was the greatest thing since sliced bread! He was pretty much the same, IMO.

    There’s a third option, you know….something to consider sometime.

    Bottom line….I hate ’em BOTH!!

    (new idea, isn’t it)


    PS: Spot on comment, Glenn. Exactly what I was thinking when I read an otherwise great article (thanks Robert Mark)….you voted for Obama?!? And drrichard, exactly how have “rich, stone cold multimillionaires” looted this country? They’ve enriched it greatly from all I can see. Since when was success pursuing the “American Dream” a crime? A little jealousy, maybe?

  21. Jason Crandall Says:

    If you voted for Obama you voted for bigger government. Bigger government guarantees you will lose freedoms like “flying your own airplane”.

    Did you really think Obama is a friend to aviation? Haven’t you heard? Only rich folks have airplanes!!

  22. James Carlson Says:

    The real bottom line is that this is a poorly thought-through funding proposal, and that we need to articulate the reasons why it’s a poor idea and why there are better approaches to closing any funding gaps.

    The reasons why it’s a bad idea should be obvious: it creates a new tax collection bureaucracy with associated accounting overhead; it creates artificial and impossible to sustain distinctions between large and small operators; and it discourages exactly the safety-minded sort of communication the FAA should be (and always is!) encouraging, thus violating the mission of the FAA.

    Absurdist rants about Obama simply don’t help in that cause. They don’t help bury this bad idea. They don’t help advance GA one iota. Instead, to the few who are paying attention, they brand our community as a collection of ideologues interested more in bandying about obviously fundamentally incorrect labels such as “socialist” rather than addressing real problems. We lose our signal in the noise.

    Frankly, if the comments on this blog so far are any indication of our collective attention to detail, we richly deserve to lose the debate.

    Please, try harder.

  23. Julian Tamez Says:

    This is outrageous, stop the madness of killing the sport we love and our freedoms.

  24. William Barringer Says:

    Stop user fees!

  25. David Keefler Says:

    Was very easy to sign for me. Went through with no problem.


  26. Robert Mark Says:

    Dear James Carlson:

    Thank you for re-focusing the debate on the real point of the article.

    None of the anti-Bush/anti-Obama, liberal/conservative rhetoric will take us one step closer to the solution.

    I must admit I don’t understand what happened to the We the People petition software when so many readers tried to sign though.

    Perhaps it is designed to test the will of the poster. Of course nearly 5,000 people were successful in signing the document so far.

    Sorry … so go back and try it again.

    And as you said, if the chit-chat I’ve read here this afternoon is any indication of the effort aviators are willing to muster, we probably do deserve what we’ll eventually receive.

    This does point out one of the weaknesses of social media though I think.

    Debate is fine. But when the talk alone begins to take the place of the real work necessary to develop real solutions, something is dreadfully wrong.


  27. marilyn Says:

    Obama and the democrats are at best socialists and at worst marxists.
    Some republicans are not far behind. Kill aviation, kill freedom-thats their mantra.

  28. Albert Beckwith Says:

    I am against user fees for General Aviation.

    I operate a flight school and aircraft rental operation.
    I have been loosing money for thr last 3 years.
    Fuel prices are outrdanes

    Albert C Beckwith

  29. Robert Mark Says:

    Great Marilyn.

    And you are doing exactly what about all of these problems killing aviation?

    You did sign the petition didn’t you?

  30. Albert Beckwith Says:

    We are
    Losing money every year since 2004

    Fuel prices are excesive and labor for maintnance increasing.

    Reduce government overhead.

    I don’t need 2 FAA inspectors and a TSA representative insure I meet drug & Alcohol standard for pleasure rides.

    The government is not operating efficiently.

    Al beckwith

  31. Larry Maznek Says:

    Make this petition easier too sign

  32. Robert Mark Says:

    And what would make it easier?

  33. Jesse Says:

    Signed!!!!!!!!!!! Increasing taxes on aviation or on anything is not the answer, the answer is to spend tax money properly and keep spending inline with population growth/inflation. If the government cannot use the money we give them now, what makes them think more is the answer?

  34. Roger Newcomb Says:

    OK, folks, I just went to the WH site and had no problem signing in and signing the petition.
    So, why not cease the partisan bickering and GO SIGN IT!

  35. L. LEON KAY Says:

    I hear the whiners! They must listen to the Fox news liars like rush (no cap) he is a much like (Madeoff) who made off with all the investors money.
    It will take a while longer to fix this mess that the Republicans Bush, Bush Reagan ect. got us in and not to mention the wars. Get real!!!!!



  36. Gary Jones Says:

    The idea of Aviation user fees are just another assault on our freedoms. Stop Them!

  37. Chris Torres Says:

    I am not able to sign in and sign the petition! Please count me.

  38. Mike Howard Says:

    Robert Mark,

    As someone guilty as charged, I appreciate your comment above “And as you said, if the chit-chat Ive read here this afternoon is any indication of the effort aviators are willing to muster, we probably do deserve what well eventually receive.”

    Right on.

    BTW, when I signed, I got the same problemwouldn’t take my login. But I think this is important enough that I went through the hassle of waiting for a password change email, sorting through their weird login system, etc, so that I could sign.

    Come on guys, pull through it. Just a little login problem is going to stop you from signing a petition that could help save general aviation? Whatever happened to the spirit of the Pilgrims, who were willing to carve out an existence on the edge of a continent, just to be able to worship the way they believed was right…..and we can’t wait for a password reset email to simply click a button?!?

  39. Joaquin A. Sosa Says:

    I tried unsuccessfully to sign the petition against user fees. But then, I realized that my e-mail will be used by the Obama re-election campaign to boost their base. NO WAY I WANT THAT.


    If you want to prepare a petition to address the issue, do it party independent and do not feed them our e-mails.

  40. Steve R. Says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Please, Please, stop all this “he-said she-said”. The issue here is USER-FEES! Is this what you want? If not; what are you going to do about it? Signing this petition is a good start. I read the insructions carefully, created an account and signed the petition. If you were unsuccessful, take your time and try again. If you cared enough to have tried once, don’t give up so easily. More gov control is never a good thing. If you are over the age of 30 you should know by now, more bureaucracy only creates more bureaucracy. They’ll have to figure out how to collect those fees and when that doesn’t work, they have to impose a way to “come after you” in order to collect those fees. As with any other gov entity it will start creating “think tanks” to create other imposing notions to keep itself alive (creating more gov jobs). This will create the need for more FEES! DO NOT leave this to “the other guy” to take care of. Where would we be today if the colonist had done that?

    Steve R.
    Lubbock, TX

  41. David Says:


    Try a different browser. I was unable to sign the petition with Firefox, but was able to sign using Internet Explorer.

    Sign early an often — as they vote in Chicago.


  42. John Fornear Says:

    We already pay a gas tax, that tax goes up with the price of gas, where di those revenues goe?

  43. Chris Burnette Says:

    I’m totally against user fees. Any system to collect the fees will eat up half the income and will be just another “agency” in an already gloated system. Now, I would never vote for Obama, however, I’m glad we have an opportunity to choose a president. Otherwise, I suspect we’d have a dictatorship. I was, also, unable to sign the patition.

  44. Robert Mark Says:

    For those of you still having difficulty signing the petition, I’ve been advised to suggest trying a different browser.

    My biggest problems came from Firefox.


  45. Robert Ball Says:

    What worked for me in IE was to sign in. Then log off. Close IE. Then open IE Sign in and the option to sign showed up. Something about past cookies not clearing.

  46. Richard Parliman Says:

    As Flyers either for fun or profit, we must band together for thew common cause of “No USER Fees”. The money that would come from this would go into a ‘General Fund’ and no one would know where it went, or how it would help GA.

  47. L.SILVERMAN Says:

    SUPPORT 100 %

  48. Grant McHerron Says:

    Honestly folks, who cares which blathering idiot is in power now, back then or after November? They’re all going to find ways to screw you for all they can and you can bet that the next group in power will introduce a user-fee in one way or another ‘cos it’ll help prop up the empty coffers that 30 years of petty-politics & ‘sound bite’ government has left your country with (the US debt has been a major issue for 20 years – I think that covers a few administrations, no?)

    I’m from Australia where we have user fees in aviation for everything from shooting an ILS to doing a TOUCH N GO!!! We’re paying WAY more than you for fuel AND we pay each time we touch the tarmac! Our services are disappearing and if you’re flying in New Zealand, you have to pay to get Met information. Yeah, pay!

    You guys have it SO easy! Calling a briefer? Luxury! We get to read NOTAMs, METARs & TAFs on a web page & then submit our own flightplans via fax or (more likely) via web/app.

    You lot complain when Chicago don’t want to talk to GA? HAH! Welcome to our world. You complain when the line boy at an FBO is a doofus? HAH! What’s an FBO? What’s a line boy? What’s a “courtesy car” ????

    Down here you only get that if you arrive in a Gulfstream!

    If you don’t stop bickering about which president / contender is the bigger moron, you’re going to lose your access to flight BECAUSE OF YOU!!!! Not the idiot sitting in the White House! YOU!!!!!!

    If you’re going to let a stupid little IT problem stop you getting your vote cast on this “No USER Fees” issue then you deserve them when they’re introduced.

    Sorry for the harsh language (trust me, I’m holding back big time!) but wake up & smell the avtur! You folks have the greatest aviation system in the world for GA and if you don’t get off your butts & hassle the heck out of your elected officials personally, you’re going to lose it. Don’t rely on the alphabet groups! Ask yourself every day: “What am I doing today to stop User Fees?” – if you’re not making at least one phone call to an elected official, if you’re not convincing others to do the same, then you’ll only have yourself to blame when you too are paying $300+ for an hour of circuits (aircraft rental, instructor, fuel, 5 x landing fees, etc).

  49. @williamAirways Says:

    Wow. Really? It took me all of 2 minutes to create an account and sign this petition using Firefox.

    Thank you Grant McHerron for laying it out straight. I think we Americans are our own worst enemy. And you are absolutely right about the alphabet groups. They continue to fail us in the important issues. It really sickens me and makes me wonder why people continue to support these organizations when they can’t deliver.

    It’s pretty doubtful that we’ll get close to the number of required signatures on this one given that we need 19,643 more signatures in 7 days. I guess we better get our flying in as much as we can before it becomes something to do in the hangars and Redbird simulators only.

    Anyone have any tips on how to get into RC airplane flying?

  50. Paul Says:

    You folks are missing something. The way the proposal is written the Obama administration wants to put a $100 per flight fee on all flights in controlled airspace, except for piston powered (for now), government, and ambulance flights.

    What that means is he wants to charge $100 for flying in class A, B, C, D, or F airspace with electric powered aircraft, hot air balloons, and gliders too.

  51. Keith Mendoza Says:

    It appears that the “We the People” website doesn’t behave well with Google Chrome. If you’re having issues trying to sign the petition try using Firefox, that worked for me

  52. Wes Leighton Says:

    Ah, the user fee debate. What gets me about these debates is government is too big and people are getting services that should be privatized and paid by the people that use them. Things like public education should be privatized. Pres. Bush privatized the war. Public highways have been sold to investors who doubled tolls. Yet, most pilots who believe that is the correct course do not want to pay for services. So either the ideology is wrong ( I believe it is) or it is more of cut everybody else’s funding but mine.

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