Rec Pilots May See Much Higher Licensing Fees... Unless The
49ers Cover The Spread
'Special' Edition: Aero-News has obtained details of two
of the FAA's proposed ideas for funding the national air traffic
control system. The measures appear to be at least partly in
response to scalding criticism from the GA community concerning the
Air Transport Association's proposal, announced last month, that
includes stifling user fees for general aviation pilots.
The first plan, codenamed "Wreck-A-Rec," would involve a
dramatic restructuring of the licensing requirements for one of the
smallest segments of the general aviation community: recreational
"Basically, you have about 300 pilots out there who only
want to fly their planes on weekends, when it's sunny and calm, and
then only about 50 miles from their home airport," said FAA
spokeswoman Kathleen Brown to ANN when asked to comment. "These
pilots, while not necessarily a burden on the national airspace
system, still clog the skies in relatively small areas -- and the
agency feels they should shoulder the burden accordingly. Or,
unofficially, a little bit more."
"Besides," Brown added, "they're generally a quiet lot, they
keep to themselves, and are not prone to public outcry -- unlike
other GA pilots who like to raise a ruckus whenever someone tries
to get another $25 out of them."
The FAA's proposal would call for annual licensing fees of
approximately $47,000,000 per year for each of the 291 registered
recreational pilots, to cover all of the FAA's projected $13.4
billion annual budget.
"I know what you're
going to say -- that's a lot of money," said Brown. "But let's face
it, these pilots are obviously pretty well-to-do -- after all, they
own their own airplanes."
"Besides," Brown added, "with full payment of their annual fee,
we will waive their annual medical exam."
The second proposal, referred to as "Operation Over/Under" in
internal documents, is more obscure... but preliminary analysis by
ANN scientists reveals the plan involves several intricate
mathematical computing formulae, elaborate methods of public
concealment of intent... and the city of Las Vegas, NV.
"We're not saying much about 'Over/Under' at this time," Brown
told ANN. "We're trying out several possible funding strategies,
including in-depth study of the ideas presented in the book
Knock-Out Blackjack, detailing what authors Vancura and
Fuchs say is 'the easiest card-counting system ever devised.'"
The funding proposal may prove to be hit among pilots of all
stripes -- private, bizav and airline alike -- who, should the FAA
have a particularly good week "playing the ponies," would not have
to spend ANY money on such necessities as landing fees, or
contacting a flight service station.
Conversely, however, should the FAA default on its contractual
obligations on a given "funding strategy," ramp agents referred to
as "Vinnies" would be rapidly deployed to airports across the
nation, shaking down pilots for needed coin.
"We have a strategy," Brown added.
"Should we ever get in a
jam, we'll throw the keys to the New York field office on the
table. We doubt anyone we're playing against will know we closed
and consolidated that operation... because really, who'd believe we
actually did that?"
"We figure about half the time, everyone will be happy with
"Over/Under," said Brown. "The other half of the time -- well, it's
more like 46/54 as far as actual percentages go -- pilots will wish
they'd smiled and nodded at the ATA's proposal."
Speaking of the ATA, already the FAA's proposal has received a
favorable review from organization chairman James May, who spoke
with Aero-News via cell phone recently from an undisclosed
"C'mon, lucky seven," said May, as slot machines could be heard
in the background. "Basically, what the FAA is proposing is no less
a risk than what the airlines have been doing for the past five
years. We're glad the agency is finally onboard with our way of
"Ah, damn it..." said May. "The 49er's just busted the spread. I
gotta go." The line then went dead.