Swift Action Helps Alter Course of Warbird Issue
EAA members, aviators make their voices heard but must remain vigilant
April 24, 2012 - Swift action by members of EAA and Warbirds of America, plus other aviation enthusiasts, is making a difference in potentially reversing a threat to warbird aircraft through a possible amendment to the House National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310).
Thousands of EAA members and aviators contacted their congressional representatives after EAA and other warbird organizations reported last week that a proposed amendment to the House bill would bar the Department of Defense from loaning or gifting any U.S. military aircraft or parts to any entity except those that would put the aircraft on static display, such as in a museum. As of today the sponsor of the amendment, Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), has verbally committed that he does not intend to ask for its inclusion to the bill. The amendment would have precluded military aircraft from being loaned to private individuals, associations, or museums where there was any intent of flying the historic vintage warbirds, even at air shows or demonstrations of support for veterans.
While EAA members were expressing their views to their elected officials, Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), a longtime EAA and Warbirds of America member, reached out to House colleagues - including Rep. Turner - regarding the devastating effect the amendment could have on U.S. warbird operations. The House General Aviation Caucus and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have also been valuable in conveying key information regarding warbirds and the proposed amendment in support of public response.
While a verbal commitment has been made to not to include the amendment that would impact the existing fleet of piston- and jet-powered warbirds, communications on Rep. Turner's website still voice concerns over the safety of civilians operating modern military aircraft. All involved in defending the warbird community and the civilian operation of these aircraft maintain that the FAA establishes the certification, maintenance and training criteria necessary to safety operate these aircraft and has done so for decades. Therefore, no additional legislation is needed.
EAA continues to work with its Warbirds of America division, the Commemorative Air Force, Classic Jet Aircraft Association, Collings Foundation and other warbird groups on the issue. This unified effort again proved the value of aviation groups being stronger together to preserve and promote GA.