The nation’s airworthy warbirds have survived, for now, another attempt to knock them out of the sky.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), co-chairman of the House GA Caucus, worked with AOPA, EAA, and many other organizations to rally opposition to a potential amendment that would have banned the transfer of military aircraft to civilian operators who planned to fly them. The amendment would have jeopardized existing agreements and grounded all American warbirds.
EAA and the Warbirds of America (WOA) received terrific news this week from the FAA regarding experimental exhibition operating limitations for former military aircraft in Groups I, II, and III. The FAA has announced a process to allow for a letter of deviation, permitting owners to conduct proficiency flights beyond the 300 nm (piston) and 600 nm (turbine) radius of operations stipulated in a section of FAA Order 8130.2F.
The geographic limitations were adopted as a safety measure in the early 1990s when a large number of former military aircraft was imported into the United States. Since then, safety records have shown that the proficiency limitations did little, if anything, to improve safety. Industry groups, including WOA, felt that allowing pilots to train outside these limits would help raise the pilot?s experience and proficiency levels, thus improving safety.
Discussions on the issue turned a huge corner during meetings hosted by EAA and WOA in March 2007 when industry representatives and senior FAA officials reviewed FAA Order 8130.2F and discussed recommendations on future revisions. At EAA AirVenture 2007 in July, the FAA agreed to issue the letter of deviation and discussed the proposed timetable for its release. Other organizations represented included the Commemorative Air Force (CAF); Classic Jet Aircraft Association (CJAA); and Courtesy Aircraft.
?We are extremely pleased with this outcome,? said Rick Siegfried, EAA Warbirds of America president. ?EAA Warbirds of America and our industry partners have worked very hard on our members? behalf. By meeting face-to-face in Oshkosh with FAA officials, we were able to work through this and other issues. We have submitted a list of recommended revisions to FAA Order 8130.2F and look forward to even more progress in the weeks and months to come.?
The Minnesota Air National Guard Museum has called upon its representatives in Congress to stop a plan by the US Air Force to commandeer the museum’s A-12 Blackbird spyplane, to display outside the Virginia headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency.
For many years historic aviation enthusiasts have criticized the Smithsonian Institution and namely the National Air and Space Museum for lack of action in many of the restoration projects that fill the facilities of the Garber Annex in Silver Hill, Maryland. With the opening of the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles, many felt that the situation would change sooner than later, and in some cases it has indeed changed. Notable recent additions to the Udvar-Hazy display such as the Northrup P-61 Black Widow show that some progress is being made, but is it enough? Notable aircraft such as the Boeing B-17D Flying Fortress “The Swoose” continue to deteriorate, despite the fact the National Air & Space Museum lacks a B-17 in public display.
The General Accountability Office (GAO) released a report recently that uncovers “major structural deterioration” and “leaks” in many Smithsonian Museums and questions of cash flow and sustainability have come to light. With millions of people annually viewing the collections, the urgency of the situation is slowly coming to light in the media. Relative to the National Air & Space Museum, the GAO raised concerns 10 years ago in a report detailing the lack of space, lack of money, and continuing deterioration of the collection. One of the primary concerns; the restoration and storage space, still has yet to be addressed even with the building of the new Udvar-Hazy Center.
Tyler Green writes an opinion on the situation in the Los Angeles Times and notes the lack of action by Congress and the perils of allowing corporate sponsoring of certain exhibits to raise cash flow. Green notes, “One of the problems with corporate involvement is the appearance of influence in exhibition programming” as he describes a recent incident with a General Motors sponsored exhibit.
However, would corporate sponsorship help especially in the case of the aircraft that are at Garber? Where would the Boeing 307 Stratoliner be without the help of Boeing… at what point is the line crossed?
Your opinion counts and certainly the fate of many items of aviation history hang in the balance. Please make your representatives aware of your thoughts and let’s help the NASM come up with some way of keeping our aviation treasures safe.