Rep. Anthony Weiner Gives GA the Finger

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he sits on the Aviation and Highways Subcommittees. How ironic it is, then, that he knows absolutely nothing about general aviation except that it’s imperative it be eliminated immediately.

On the third anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Rep. Weiner made an attack of his own by introducing H.R. 5035. Richard Daley would be proud.

This bill (H.R. 5035) would require the Department of Homeland Security to create a method of screening all passengers and property on each flight of all passenger aircraft in the U.S., including general aviation aircraft of all types. It would also prohibit any non-airline aircraft from flying within 1,500 feet of any structure or building, and prohibit non-airline aircraft from flying over any U.S. city with a population of 1 million or more. It would further require that pilots of all aircraft in U.S. airspace remain in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration, presumably by radio, regardless of altitude or location.

This comes from a guy who’s on the aviation subcommittee. Unbelievable. You can almost hear the insincere, catch-all bleat about “homeland security” spouting from this talking head at a news conference. Concerned look on his face. “Just doing it for the children”. A paragon of purity and virtue, protecting us from the careless yahoos and dangerous Americans who would actually have the presumption to fly their own aircraft.

(Note to self: I wonder what my blood pressure is right now…)

I hate to bring common sense into this, but one wonders how Rep. Weiner proposes to handle the increased load on air traffic controllers. Right now, 95% of flights are VFR and flown without any control from anyone except the pilot. Now if you’re not involved in general aviation, this might sound like some kind of security problem. “You mean all these pilots are flying around without anyone knowing where they’re going?”

Yes, Virginia, that’s exactly what I mean.

Before you get too riled up about it, consider that an ordinary car weighs more, carries more, goes as fast, and has more kinetic energy (in other words, destructive power) than a GA airplane. Remember, we’re not talking about airliners here. These aircraft weigh less than 3,000 lbs and carry about 50 gallons of fuel. A car is more stealthy and far easier to obtain and operate. So why on earth are you allowed to drive your car without letting the government know where you’re going?

Shouldn’t every passenger in your car receive a thorough background check by the government first?

Shouldn’t your possessions and person be searched every time you want to drive your car?

Shouldn’t you be required to remain in constant contact with the federal government while you operate your car?

A car is a greater threat than any general aviation aircraft could ever be. Have you any idea how many crimes (violent and otherwise) are committed using automobiles every year? How many people are killed in and by cars?

Getting the picture?

Even if strangling GA this way was a good idea, an overburdened air traffic system would never be able to cope with an instantaneous 2000% increase. Surely Rep. Weiner has an answer for this. After all, he’s on the aviation subcommittee.

On the other hand, maybe the evidence suggests that Weiner knows absolutely nothing about aviation. Prohibiting airplanes from flying over “any city with more than one million people” is exactly the same as prohibiting automobiles from driving in any city with more than one million people. Only a sophmoric simpleton would suggest such a thing.

Weiner’s bill seeks to “prohibit aircraft from flying within 1500 feet of any structure or building”. The Federal Aviation Regulations already contain provisions for minimum safe altitudes over populated and unpopulated areas (14 CFR 91.119). Read the regulation for yourself. Rep. Weiner wants to eliminate the “except when necessary for takeoff or landing” part.

The real question here is why Rep. Weiner is proposing this bill in the first place. An election year ploy? Perhaps. But considering his response when the Concorde made it’s last flight (“goodbye and good riddance!”), his self-proclaimed crusade to “rid the skies of noise”, and his misplaced attacks on GA, it seems more likely that he’s a dangerous NIMBY crackpot. Whoever is responsible for appointing this guy to the aviation subcommittee should have to answer for it.

In addition to being a Democratic whip in the House, Weiner’s web site exalts his status as a “leading spokesman for Democrats across the nation” as well as “one of the 50 most influential Jewish Americans”. Speaking as Jewish person myself, everything about this guy makes me sick.

You can bet a lot of letters are going to fly over this bill. And I’m going to be the one writing quite a few of them.

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