USA Today Gives Equal Time to GA in Opinion Piece
September 24, 2009 — In an editorial in today’s edition of USA Today (September 24), the editorial board affirmed its viewpoint that airline ticket taxes were being disproportionately distributed to general aviation airports that have no scheduled airline service. Despite strong rebuttals from general aviation groups since its [USA Today] airport funding story ran on September 16, the board cited various statistics gleaned from their reporting to reiterate their position. In a small concession, the newspaper gave Craig L. Fuller, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association, equal space to express what general aviation advocates have been feeling. (Read USA Today and AOPA editorials)
The reaction by the aviation community toward the USA Today has been active as local newspapers across the nation ran follow up stories including interviews with local airport officials. In many of these stories the coverage was favorable to general aviation as airport officials were able to rebut many of the assertions in the original story. National Public Radio (NPR) interviewed Thomas Frank, the USA Today reporter who wrote the funding story. The next day NPR aired a correction on their characterization of general aviation airports after fielding many listener comments. (listen to the NPR correction)
In congress the reaction to the USA Today story has also been strong as criticisms of GA and stimulus funding irritated several congressmen including House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.). (Watch their response)
GA Wants Caucus to Denounce USA Today Airport Story
Heads of six of the leading general aviation organizations signed a letter to members of the Congressional General Aviation Caucus urging their support of a “Dear Colleague” letter penned by Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) that was critical of the anti-GA airport story that ran September 17 in USA Today. EAA President/Chairman Tom Poberezny joined James K. Coyne, president, National Air Transportation Association; Ed Bolen, president and CEO, National Business Aviation Association; Matthew S. Zuccaro, president, Helicopter Association International; Craig Fuller, president, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; and Pete Bunce, president, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, in denouncing the misleading story.
“The article contains many misleading assertions and does not present an accurate picture of our nation’s public-use airports, the importance of our national aviation system and federal investments in that system through the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP),” the letter reads.