WPA News Items

Urgent call to ALL Friends of aviation . . . Due Tuesday night February 16th!
House Bill 3176 (Part 10 on page 69) will destroy aviation as we know it in this state. Basically, the Legislature is proposing in Part 10 that we as aircraft owners pay .5% (1/2%) Excise Tax every year based on the aircrafts value. A $50,000 Cessna 172 would pay $250 every year. A new $225,000 Cessna 182 would pay $1,125 every year. Guess what a corporate jet would cost? What about the flight schools?

Note: the money would go to the General Fund . . . NOT to support aviation.

Please contact your local representative and the Governor immediately. Ask them to remove Part 10 on page 69 of this bill. If this section remains intact they are sending a universal message that aviation is not welcome in this state.

Also, stay on subject! Some of the chicanery (procedural tricks) while very frustrating are nothing more than a distraction. You risk your credibility if you stray. One subject at a time!

Find your legislator

Sample Letter from Les Flue to Governor Gregoire . . . This is the best I have seen!

Read HB 3176

URGENT!  House Bill 3176 would significantly raise excise taxes paid on aircraft registered in Washington.  Under existing law aircraft owners pay and excise tax of between $20 and $125 every year.  HB 3176, Section X at page 69 would increase the excise tax several hundred to several thousand percent.  The tax would be of 1 percent of market value.   HB 3176 would increase the tax you pay every year on your aircraft, or on the aircraft you rent by several hundred to several thousand percent!   For example, the excise tax on a 1980’s Cessna 182 is $50 per year.  If HB 3176 becomes law the annual excise tax would increase 800% to about $400.  Market value would be determined by the State using recent sales or other means.  Current law requires that 10% of excises taxes collected on aircraft be used for airport and aviation purposes, with the remainder going to the General Fund.  Under the proposed law all aircraft excise taxes would be sent to the General Fund.  Hearings on HB 3176 will be held in Olympia on Saturday, February 13th at 9:00 am by the House Finance Committee.  Pilots and aircraft owners should contact their State Representatives and State Senators as soon as possible.  Write them, call them, and if possible, visit their offices to tell them how this will affect you.  The bill and a list of sponsors in the House of Representatives can be found at:  http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=3176&year=2009. You can find your Washington state legislator (Representative or Senator) here:  http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/Default.aspx.  Please attend the hearing in Olympia Saturday morning at 9:00 am in one of the hearing rooms in the John L. O’Brien House Office building.  You don’t have to speak, just be there to show your opposition for this unfair tax increase.

Cle Elum S93 . . . Throw the bums out . . .

This is an election year . . . and four positions of the Cle Elum City Council are up . . . After you hear this story ask yourself, “Do they deserve your vote”?

Last year Craig Johnson, WPA member and AOPA ASN, called asking for help with a problem. Seems a developer wanted to put some homes in proximity to the airport. The project is called the Airport Heights Planned Unit Development. The city of Cle Elum owns the airport, but it is surrounded by Kittitas County Land.

One picture is worth a thousand words . . . Look at the Cle Elum airport and look to the proposed Subdivision. The scale shows the first home to be within 500 feet of the runway. Only homeowners with attached hangars would love this development. (No I am not advocating “through the fence”.)

I talked with WSDOT and the FAA. Both were concerned because this airport had just received a complete makeover . . . to the tune of $1.8 million dollars. The FAA Grant Agreement came with some serious restrictions. Specifically Item 21 requires the City of Cle Elum to, “. . . restrict the use of land adjacent to or in the immediate vicinity of the airport to activities and purposes compatible with normal airport operations . . .”! Though Bowers Field in Ellensburg has an “overlay zone”, Cle Elum Municipal does not.

I can’t tell you the number of times the developer postponed the hearing on the zone change request. Suffice it to say I never thought it would see the light of day. Last year, armed with documents and studies cautioning planners and Airport Managers about Noise and Safety Issues I personally drove to Cle Elum and met with the City Administrator, Mr. Gregg Hall. I gave him my speech and listened as he opined how the problem was with Kittitas County. So off to Ellensburg and the County Seat I went to meet with Mr. Scott Turnbull, former county planner. (Note, the Hearings Examiner had excluded the WPA as having contributed comments on this subject.) I did eventually talk with Mr Turnbull (by phone) who said that once again the review had been postponed.

WSDOT blasted the County with a letter on September 9, 2009. They reminded the county of their obligations under the Growth Management Act. They cited the Noise and Safety Concerns and they elevated their concerns over the “Preliminary Storm Drainage Report” . . . can you spell “bird strikes”? The next week Carter Timmerman, Craig Johnson, John Townsley, I and at least 30 pilots showed up at the County Offices to testify against the proposed development.

So where was the City of Cle Elum in all of this? Carol Soumi, Seattle Airports District Office Manager was asking the same question. You see, the City of Cle Elum wanted to have its cake and eat it too. They have been working a side deal with the same developer to acquire other land next to the airport. The FAA discovered the city’s milk toast letter to the county (sent last year) that did not oppose the Airport Heights Development. Mr. Hall, City Administrator, mentioned the letter to me but would never send me a copy. So the FAA took it to the next level. We owe Carol Soumi a big Thank You!   

The City of Cle Elum sent their Economic Development Representative to the September Meeting. He had only one sentence,” The City of Cle Elum is opposed to the development”. He then left the building.

The real question for the City of Cle Elum . . . Are you truly ready with your attorneys in hand to defend your newly discovered position? Should the hearings examiner rule in the County’s favor . . . and the County Commissioners approve the rezone there is another level of appeal? And I do believe the City has a legal obligation to file an action . . . and more than one source says they would prevail! It is critical that everyone understand the City has a serious liability here! If they don’t protect the Cle Elum airport then throw the bums out!

Just in case you are not sure who is up for elections this year note the following . . .

Arthur Scott                12/31/2009
Mickey Holz               12/31/2009
Ron Spears                 12/31/2009
Warren Perry              12/31/2009

Give the City Administrator, Mayor and Council a little encouragement . . . make it easy for them to do the right thing.

Gregg Hall, City Administrator
(509) 674-2262 ext. 101

City of Cle Elum
119 West First Street
Cle Elum, WA 98922


NKC Tribune (newspaper) 221 Pennsylvania Ave., Cle Elum, WA 98922 (509) 674-2511


Cle Elum City Council

FAASTeam - FAASafety.gov

Termination of Satellite Monitoring of 121.5 MHz ELT's. - ARE YOU READY?
Notice Number: NOTC1518

Termination of satellite monitoring of 121.5 MHz ELTs will happen in under a month.  Are you ready?

On 1 February 2009, the International Cospas-Sarsat [1] [1] Organization (U.S. included) will terminate processing of distress signals emitted by 121.5 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs). Pilots flying aircraft equipped with 121.5 MHz ELTs after that date will have to depend on pilots of over flying aircraft and or ground stations monitoring 121.5 to hear and report distress alert signals, transmitted from a possible crash site.

Protect each other…

Currently only 12-15% of the registered aircraft in the United States are flying with 406 MHz ELTs.  This means that there is at least an 85% chance that an aircraft in an accident will only transmit a 121.5 MHz signal, thus remaining silent to the satellites.  It will be up to other pilots monitoring the 121.5 MHz frequency in the cockpit to alert Search and Rescue authorities to accidents involving 121.5.  When you fly, look out for your fellow pilots and when possible monitor 121.5 MHz. 

If a 121.5 MHz ELT is heard on guard, report to the nearest air traffic control tower, the time and location of when you first detect the ELT, when it is the loudest and when it drops off your radio.  Listening and reporting may well be the difference that saves a life.  

Protect yourself…

Cospas-Sarsat System (U.S. included) has been and will continue processing emergency signals transmitted by 406 MHz ELTs. These 5 Watt digital beacons transmit a much stronger signal, are more accurate, verifiable and traceable to the registered beacon owner (406 MHz ELTs must be registered by the owner in accordance with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov). Registration allows the search and rescue authorities to contact the beacon owner, or his or her designated alternate by telephone to determine if a real emergency exists. Therefore, a simple telephone call often solves a 406 MHz alerts without launching costly and limited search and rescue resources, which would have to be done for a 121.5 MHz alert. For these reasons, the search and rescue community is encouraging aircraft owners to consider retrofit of 406 MHz ELTs or at a minimum, consider the purchase of a handheld 406 MHz Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) which can be carried in the cockpit while continuing to maintain a fixed 121.5 MHz ELT mounted in the aircraft’s tail.  Protect yourself and your passengers and Get the Fix… Switch to 406.

Remember, after February 1, 2009, the world-wide Cospas-Sarsat satellite system will no longer process 121.5 MHz alert signals. Pilots involved in aircraft accidents in remote areas will have to depend on pilots of over flying aircraft and or ground stations to hear emergency ELT distress signals.  For further information concerning the termination of 121.5 MHz data processing visit www.sarsat.noaa.govor contact Switchto406@noaa.gov with any questions.

Address SARSAT inquiries to:

4231 SuitlandRoad
Suitland, MD 20746
Phone: 301.817.4515
Toll free: 888.212.7283
Fax: 301.817.4565

Vista Field . . .  A bird in the hand or two in the bush
Submitted 10/31/2008
By John Dobson

To every Kennewick city council member . . . where do you stand on the issue now? Basically you authorized the expenditure of taxpayer dollars (over $60,000) to fund a flawed study. After looking at the data, it is painfully obvious that you paid a consultant to reach a predetermined outcome. Consider for one moment that your Citizens Task Force was not open to the public. That speaks volumes about your intent. The fact that you continue to withhold public information . . . you agreed at the July workshop to release the Belt-Collins financial “matrix” . . .  is truly subject to legal examination.

The Belt-Collins study assumes that 25% of all commercial development in Benton and Franklin Counties will occur on the Vista Field property in the next 20 years. The term is “Capture Rate”. The best guess by the local real-estate experts  . . . maybe a 10% “capture rate”.

If the local experts are correct, then $59,100,000 could be spent in the next 20 years . . . not a guarantee. Is your developer, Mr. Bill Smith’s willing to write the $13,000,000 million dollar check to the Port of Kennewick today? We have reason to question his financial strength. Yet Dr Cadwell is willing to write the check for $44,544,000 over the next 10 years. See chart below;  

     T hangars                     34                    $2,720,000

     FBO                              1                       $360,000

     Maintenance                  1                       $600,000

     Executive hangars       19                    $4,104,000

     T hangars                     34                    $1,360,000

     Cadwell Labs                                      $2,100,000

     Mixed use                                           $33,300,000

     Grand Total                                       $44,544,000

The question to you on the council . . . Do you bet on Mr Smith or Dr. Carl Cadwell?


This is what your new FBO could look like . . .

The second flaw in the Belt-Collins study centers on the failure to analyze the true cost to close the airport. The JUB Study estimated the cost at $8 million. But then there is the loss of $75 to $100 million in annual revenue that would leave the Tri-Cities. Please, tell the citizens again . . . what do they get? 


Sample of mixed use development

The ball is now in your court. When you receive the application to amend the zoning how will you vote . . . what direction or mandate to you give the City Manager? Section 4 of your 1991 contract with the Port of Kennewick states;

     4.         Development and Zoning 

      It is agreed between the parties that the continued operation of Vista Field and commercial and industrial activities compatible therewith is a vital concern to both parties.  Both agree to seek and promote appropriate and necessary zoning, building, construction, platting and subdivision and other improvements so as to make the said Vista Field and its environs productive, harmonious and a social and economic asset for the community.


Sample of mixed use development

Your agreement with the Port of Kennewick makes no mention of closing the airport. Instead of trying to build a monument to yourself why not work with the Port of Kennewick and Dr. Cadwell and build something that the citizens will be proud of. You may not get a “town center” that you want . . . but you could get what you need. For those council members up for election this November speak now or for ever hold your peace.

Vista Field: $86 million vs. $2 Billion
Submitted 8/19/2008
By John Dobson

On July 22nd the City of Kennewick held a workshop to review what their consultant, Belt Collins” had to say about the “best possible use” of the land called Vista Field.

With four options on the table there were no surprises when they chose to recommend closure of the airport in order to build a “town center”. What did come into question were the financial benefits suggested by the consultant.

Dr. Carl Cadwell, Cadwell laboratories, one of the seven members of a citizen’s task force working on this issue for the City of Kennewick, reverse engineered the financial data. (Note Belt Collins had refused to share with him their economic spreadsheets). He made a presentation to the council members and suggested that the economic benefits to the citizens of Kennewick had been overstated. He documented a one time payment of $86 million. With the closure of Vista Field the loss of revenue from Cadwell Laboratories, AMIC and Pacific Cataract and Laser would be equate to $1.5 to $2 Billion dollars over the next 20 years.

One glaring observation to me is the fact that the City of Kennewick is asking the Port of Kennewick (owner of the airport) to sell 92 acres of property to a hand picked developer, Mr. Bill Smith of Bend Oregon. The city has estimated the price to be $13.5 million. The Port is then to use their proceeds to pay for the necessary infrastructure to complete the development. I am not sure I see the benefit to the Port of Kennewick.

All of that said it has become painfully obvious that the City of Kennewick has their agenda and it does not include consideration of the citizens they were elected to represent. In 1977 there was a citizen’s advisory vote on what to do with the airport. The vote was overwhelming in its support of the airport . . . . 65% in favor and 35% against. Again in 2003 the Port of Kennewick asked the same question. There were no objections to the airport. Still the City of Kennewick persists. And let me repeat the opening punch line, “$86 million vs. $2 Billion”. The city gets the 86 and the citizens give up the $2 Billion.

To the City Council . . . when will the airport advocates be allocated $60, 000 to hire a consultant to show you what your town center could look like with the airport as the centerpiece? Marjy Leggett did a great job suggesting alternatives . . . but she is not a professionally trained consultant. Also, what guarantees will we have that ten years from now Richland won’t be closed? Has anyone asked the City of Richland about constructing hangars, taxiways, etc? Why was WSDOT and CTED not involved with this study? Belt Collins has no aviation background. Aries Consultants works on Airport Master Plans. How does that qualify them to be economic experts on airports?

The bottom line if the City of Kennewick continues to raise the specter of closing Vista Field we will have no choice but to tell our story to the public. Governments are here to serve. Eventually the federal monies brought into the area for Hanford will dry up. What is the City of Kennewick doing to prepare for that eventuality? Building monuments to itself will not put food on the table of the citizens. Adding a new Burger King, Victoria’s Secret, residential condos walking paths, etc will not bring long term white collar jobs to a community. And chasing away known manufacturing companies . . . this is truly unbelievable.

Membership Benefits Program is Taking Off
Submitted 4/11/2008
By Les Flue
WPA Director-at-Large

Since our introduction of the Membership Benefits Program at the Pacific Northwest Aviation Conference, we have had resounding responses from many businesses around the Pacific Northwest.

After the conference, we sent out an email to 25 businesses that were at the show, after having talked to them already.  Everybody we talk to has expressed resounding support of our program.

The next time you fly; please give these partners “the business”.

The following businesses have already signed up:

Business and Contact


Type of Benefit Offered

McCormick Air Center

Teresa Hart




         .25 (cent) per gallon discount on fuel

         10% Discount on VFR/IFR Certification
10% Discount on I-COM and Garmin  Handheld Radio and GPS

McAllister Museum

Roberta Dela Houssaye


Call to arrange



         .10 (cent) per gallon discount on fuel

AC Propeller Service

Mike Worden




         10% discount on Propeller and Governor overhauls, repairs, and sales

Barnstormers Restaurant


         10% Discount on food

Northwest Aviation Center

Dave Wheeler




         $75.00 (regularly $90.00) discounted price towards a Flight Review; one hour instructor flight time and one hour ground time.

Tsuniah Lake Lodge

Eric Brebner



British Columbia, Canada

         10% discount on lodging

Lustick Law Firm

222 Grand Avenue
Suite A
Bellingham, WA 98225




         15% discount on our rates and fees to any current WPA member, and 20% off to members for wills, powers of attorney, and living wills.  Also, on FAA airman suspension or revocation issues, we can arrange to fly to the client for an at-airport consultation, or if the client is flying to my office for any reason, we will provide free transport to/from KBLI.

Seattle Avionics Software, Inc.

Call for software purchase discounts shown in the table at right.

Alan Negrin


Download the Voyager 4.0 flight planning software at ftp://downloads.seattleavionics.com/VoyagerSetup.exe



MSRP Current WPA
List/Retail Website Member
Product Price Price Price
VFR Preflight Bundle  $        229  $        199  $        149
IFR Preflight Bundle  $        429  $        349  $        249
EFB Bundle  $        599  $        499  $        349
Any individual module (below)  $        199  $        149  $          99
Smart Plan Express      
Smart Plan Premier      
XM (Software Only)      

Pilot Training

Mike Shiflett


Web Benefit

         We will offer a 10% discount to WPA members.  Go to http://www.pilottraining.com and use coupon code wpa (all lower case).

More are coming in and we will be posting the updates to our web site soon.

Use your Membership Card to Participate

To take advantage of the Membership Benefits Program, you must be a current, paid up member of the WPA.  Simply contact the Business Partner, show them your WPA membership card (you can obtain your membership card by signing onto the WPA membership program and printing your copy from there), and mention that you would like to use the Membership Benefits Program.

Pireps Welcome!

When you do use the program, we would love to hear from you.  How was your experience?  Simply send an email to Les Flue at les@lesflue.com with your PIREP.  Make sure that you put “Membership Benefit PIREP” in the subject line.

If you would like to recommend a business from your area to become a partner, simply send an email to Les Flue (les@lesflue.com) with your recommendation. Or, print out the accompanying application and introductory letter and have them forward their information as instructed.

Let’s all go out and fly; sign up Business Partners; and Give ‘Em the Business!

Harvey Field (S43) Endangered Species!
(Immediate Action Required)

Submitted 7/27/2007
By John Dobson
WPA State President

An inaccurate and capricious density fringe designation authorized by the Snohomish County Council has placed Harvey Airfield and the surrounding Urban Growth Area on the endangered species list. If the current designation is allowed to stand, all future development on the airport will cease. If fact the current zoning calls into question the right for S43 to exist. The issues at hand are complicated but the resolution is simple. The Snohomish County Council must complete the flood plain remapping to correct their error! And we need everyone’s efforts to convince them!  

The battle for Harvey Field is about politics, personalities, old family rivalries, environmental issues, property rights, farmers and people who just don’t like airplanes. It is about a County Council that takes pride for the economics of Paine Field, yet is loath to understand the pending disaster should the growth of Harvey Field be restricted. It is about a Planning Department that has allowed its personal beliefs to become part of the decision making process. And it’s about dead fish.

I apologize for that last remark . . . I do consider myself to be sensitive to the environment. The current wrangling over the airport has to do with its physical proximity to a flood plain. The terms to consider are “Floodway Fringe” that allows for airfield and industrial development and “Density Fringe” which is an agricultural designation, restricts development and prohibits industrial use. As I understand the problem, after the new Density Fringe designation for the airport was imposed the County discovered that “revisions to the flood plain maps . . . would be required”. The County Council directed staff to submit to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in September of 2005 a remapping request. It is called a Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR).

FEMA was sued by and lost to the National Wildlife Federation and the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Now, to return the Airport and UGA industrial area to the previous designation consideration must be given to the fish habitat. Will the proposed changes cause the loss (or take) of a listed species? It is called a Biological Assessment (BA). The County Council directed Planning and Development Services (PDS) to prepare a new Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) using hydraulic simulations formulated under Alternative #5 in late 2005. (Yes, there were 4 previous considerations). The preliminary estimate of cost according to Mr. Craig Ladiser, PDS Director, in a memo dated April 26, 2007 was a range from $110,000 to $200,000.

And this is where the process takes on a political life of its own. I received a call from Mr. Ladiser, PDS Director, on Thursday, July 26th, 2007. He told me that he now estimates the cost of this project may well reach $500,000. That is a 5 fold increase in just 90 days. He stated that he does not believe that the County should assume such a financial burden for a privately owned airport. (Note, the County has made inquiries to the FAA regarding funding availability for the purchase of Harvey Field). Mr. Ladiser also suggested that a vote by the Snohomish “City” Council requesting that the County discontinue further funding the . . . CLOMR is somehow relevant. (Harvey Field is located in Snohomish County, not the City of Snohomish).When I suggested to Mr. Ladiser Harvey Field might become a Federal entity, he said, “Good then they can pay for it”.

In the third paragraph above I stated that, “revisions to the development criteria . . . would be required”. There is an interesting side note to all of this that remains unanswered. The County had the authority not to apply Density Fringe to the Harvey Airfield (i.e. the South Snohomish UGA) landowners. Who takes the ultimate responsibility for creating this problem in the first place? It could have been a simple oversight . . . a mistake. Regardless, the County Council in September 2005 directed PDS to fix this problem.

The Snohomish County PDS did draft sometime in 2006 a Biological Assessment asking FEMA for technical assistance. Recall this is about the “take” (dead fish) that might result should S43 wish to add the FAA suggested safety overrun areas to its runway. The response came from Mr. Mark G. Eberlein, FEMA Regional Environmental Officer, on February 21, 2007. He states, “In general, the document (submitted by the County PDS) conflicts between having some effect and having no effect”. In other words the documentation in the County’s “trial balloon” was not well researched. So here we are years after the County Council directed PDS to do its job and now we have uproar from the community activists.

And that is when I ask myself who are the activists, the Stewards of the Land and how they came to be. They are a professional looking well funded media campaign against the airport. Their brochures contain several inaccuracies including a picture of flooded property that is not even part of the airport master plan. They claim that the airport wants to expand when in reality the runway length will be shortened. But what I find most disturbing are the photographs and statements associated with our elected officials siding with this special interest group. They are Aaron Reardon, Snohomish County Executive, John Lovick, WA State Representative, Steve Hobbs, WA State Senator, Hans Dunshee, WA State Representative and Rick Bart, Snohomish County Sheriff.

Paine Field is about to explode into the next Boeing Field. As with BFI, the growth of corporate aircraft and the soon to come commercial passenger service will force many to seek alternate airports . . . for operations and storage. The Washington Pilots Association supports the growth and excitement surrounding Paine Field. But, unless the Snohomish County Council is willing to develop a new “from scratch” airport we expect a renewed effort to allow Harvey Airfield to complete and implement its master plan. This is about the future of airports, the next 30 years of growth and what is best for our transportation system.

The following names and email addresses are those responsible for correcting this problem. If you do not want to lose another airport please send them your thoughts.

District 1         John Koster     John.Koster@co.snohomish.wa.us
District 2         Kirke Sievers   Kirke.Sievers@co.snohomish.wa.us
District 3         Gary Nelson    Gary.Nelson@co.snohomish.wa.us
District 4         Dave Gossett  Dave.Gossett@co.snohomish.wa.us
District 5         Dave Somers   Dave.Somers@co.snohomish.wa.us

Harvey Field is an essential public facility protected by State Law under the Growth Management Act (GMA) and by Snohomish County Airport Compatibility Ordinance No 04-125. It is one of five airports within Puget Sound designated as a reliever airport for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. WSDOT projects a 44% growth in General Aviation Activity over the next 30 years.

For those WPA members on the eastside consider the impact if Spokane City-County Council voted to close Felts Field (SFF). Where would your 345 aircraft go? What airport would absorb the 61,900 annual operations? How would your community deal with the loss of 250 jobs and $16,477,517 in Annual Economic Activity? Harvey Field has 333 aircraft and 139,160 annual operations and represents 446 jobs and $22,274,447 in Annual Economic Activity. Paine Field has 615 aircraft, 149,220 operations with 905 jobs and $68,776,914 in Annual Economic Activity (excludes Boeing Aircraft Co.). Source of economic data is WSDOT and the based aircraft and operations date is produced by Aeronautical Information Services, 5110 Airport Master Records and Reports.

User Fees = Tax Cut for Airlines
Submitted 7/27/2007
By John Dobson
WPA State President

Have you ever watched the TV program “Myth Busters”? Some not so gifted idiot claims to be able to launch themselves into space by attaching 10,000 bottle rockets to a lawn chair. They can sit down, ignite that mess and . . . Dumb as this may sound to the pilot community, there are a number of laypeople who find this plausible. And when a slick ad campaign comes along, backed by an Airline Industry flush with cash touting, “User Fees will reduce air traffic delays by making small jets and propeller driven airplanes pay more” our jaws drop and we ask who in Gods name could believe such drivel?

Unfortunately, the average citizen who travels on Airlines has no clue about General Aviation (GA). So we find ourselves in the fight of our lives attempting to overcome a public relations blitz fraught with heresy (a half truth is still a lie).  We don’t have the airlines access to media or money . . . but we do have facts and pilot power on our side. And every pilot on this planet has an obligation to contact every House and Senate Representative (State and Federal) and bust this myth.

The GAO (Government Accounting Office) on May 29, 2007 was asked by The Honorable Mark Udall to respond to several questions regarding User Fees, specifically, “What would be the effect, if any, on the NextGen (Next Generation for Modernization of the Air Traffic Control System) budget if Congress does not enact the Administration’s proposed aviation financing package . . . (and) leaves the current ticket and fuel taxes in place?” Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D., Director Physical Infrastructure Issues responded, “. . . through 2016 the Airport and Airway Trust Fund can support about $19 Billion in additional spending over the baseline FAA spending levels . . .” Bottom line the current system works and works very well!

So why is the assault by the airlines on GA? We know too well the level of service offered by a hub and spoke system is not efficient for the passenger. However, it does control the expenses for the airlines . . . what a concept. According to John Newhouse’s book Boeing Versus Airbus, it is all about the money. Consider an airline industry under intense competitive pressure from deregulation. Overextended by expanded routs and bloated fleets the airlines turned to draconian reorganization planes. By reducing service and cutting routs they finally showed a 2.6 Billion dollar profit in 2006.

The loss of service to our communities goes far beyond airlines wanting to be more profitable. It is all about greed . . . and in this case “greed is NOT in the public good”. Between February 2000 and February 2007 the airlines cut service to 349 airports nationwide. According to WSDOT 76% of all airports nationwide lost commercial passenger service. Of the “small” airports in the US 68% lost service. Of the “non-hub” airports (360) 76% lost service. Service to cities in Washington State (excluding SeaTac) declined by 53%. And the airlines continue to promote “their “inefficient hub and spoke system while decimating our ability to travel from smaller “community” airports and on our schedule!

The airlines have deployed a massive misdirection strategy. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions the airlines have elected to vilify General Aviation as the problem with “flight delays” and “overcrowded sky’s. They are trying to fool the American Public into believing that flight delays, lost luggage, cancelled flights, endless hours on ramps, and the need to change planes three times to get to your destination are somehow related to small jets and propeller driven airplanes. US News and World Report said that 40% of their flight delays were caused by weather. Other factors were late-arriving aircraft, maintenance and crew problems, and flight coordination at airports. Fact, 85% of all takeoff and landings by passenger airlines are in and out of 45 airports. How can all the problems with service be caused by GA. We don’t use those hub airports but for less than 3% of the time?

General Aviation will increase 44% over the next twenty years is because of our versatility. Because the hub airports are clogged with the airlines we land where we need to go, not where the airlines tell us to go. Our fuel taxes support approximately 20,000 airports and heliports nationwide. Airlines serve less than 3% of these airports. The airlines also require massive infrastructure, including low-visibility taxi lights, precision approach monitor radar, low level wind sheer alert systems, snow removal, and huge ramps, taxiways, runways, and parking areas. And please remember the air traffic control system was designed for the airlines.

General Aviation supports 166 million passengers per year flying in small adaptable aircraft. With some 211,000 airplanes in the GA fleet we are the largest “airline”. In fact we fly more passengers than American, United and Northwest Airlines combined. We fly from small rural and local airports, tens of thousands of cancer patients, burn victims, and sick and injured children “free” to world class medical centers. We provide disaster relief to small and large communities. We delivered medical supplies, water and food to hurricane Katrina victim’s long before the airlines returned to service. We provide all manner of agricultural applications in addition to business and personal travel. And don’t forget that every time you see the local weather forecast, that system was developed to serve America’s pilots.

The devil is in the details. The current system has GA paying 19.4 cents for every gallon of fuel and the airlines are paying only 4.3 cents. The Airlines want GA to pay 70.1 cents per gallon and they want to pay nothing. Also, buried in this funding debate are proposals to charge pilots for flying into Class B airspace, and to 215 airports deemed busy enough to warrant landing fees. Ask your local and state politicians why the airlines do not pay their fair share to begin with? Then ask why there are NO increases in fees to the Airlines to fund a system that primarily supports them? Is this just another way the airlines can eliminate competition?

If the proposed User Fees become law this has to the biggest tax cut in airline history? A tax break this massive has to be a benefit the consumers, right? And we all know that the airlines will pass the savings onto the consumer by cutting ticket prices . . . right? Sure, and I have handful of bottle rockets for you.

WPA is Involved in the Fight Against User Fees!

On April 9, 2007, John Dobson, WPA Member-at-Large and candidate for State President, and Colleen Turner, WPA Communications Director, visited Congressman David Reichert (8th District) at his district office in Mercer Island to voice WPA’s opposition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Act of 2007.    During our brief meeting, Congressman Reichert listened intently, asked probing questions and seemed determined to become more informed about the subject.  He stated that it wasn’t enough for us to state our opposition to the FAA’s funding proposal with a list of reasons regarding why we oppose it; he emphasized that we must also propose an alternative solution.  To that end, Congressman Reichert is interested in working with WPA to develop a counterproposal to the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Act of 2007 and will put us in contact with his Legislative Director, Chris Miller.

In addition to the meeting on April 9, Colleen Turner wrote the following letter on behalf of WPA to Congressman David Reichert and Senator Maria Cantwell.  Congressman Reichert is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senator Maria Cantwell is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee.  Both of these Committees have jurisdiction over the FAA.  WPA urges all of you to write your legislators to let them know how you feel.

Washington Senators

Senator Maria Cantwell
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC  20510
Web Form:  cantwell.senate.gov/contact/index.html

Senator Patty Murray
173 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC  20510
Web Form: murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm

To find out who your Representative is, click here.

February 28, 2007

On behalf of the Washington Pilots Association, I am writing to express our concern about the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Act of 2007 and how it poses a threat to the general aviation community.

The Washington Pilots Association has over 1,000 members and has been working on behalf of general aviation in Washington since 1960.   Our members fly for business, recreation and on behalf of charitable organizations like Angel Flight West and public service organizations like the Washington Air Search and Rescue and the Civil Air Patrol.  Like most private pilots throughout the nation, most of us are not wealthy and work hard to enjoy our privilege to fly.

In the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Act of 2007, the FAA is proposing a whopping increase in the tax on aviation gasoline from 19.4 cents per gallon to 70.1 cents per gallon.   This extraordinary increase will force many of our members to cut back on their flying hours to the point where it could negatively impact their businesses and make it impossible for them to get involved in charitable or public service activities which greatly benefit their communities; some might even stop flying altogether.

General Aviation, which includes all flying except for military and scheduled airline operations, makes up more than one percent of the U.S. GDP.  As a result, General Aviation employs more than 1.3 million Americans in highly-skilled jobs.  Just imagine how a 360 percent increase in the aviation gasoline tax will negatively affect our economy!

The FAA is also proposing a shift from taxes on airline passengers to air traffic control user fees for the airlines and for general aviation operations in the airspace around the nation’s large hub airports.  User fees are a bad idea because the authority to set user fees and spend money for air traffic control would rest with the FAA and the airline-dominated Air Transportation System Advisory Board, which would effectively sidestep the congressional budget process and eliminate congressional oversight of the nation’s air transportation system.

The FAA claims that the changes are needed because the current financing system is broken and won’t generate the funds needed to modernize the air traffic control system.  However, based on projections using Office of Management and Budget data, the modernization of the air traffic control system can be funded using the existing system of aviation taxes.   The Department of Transportation’s own projections show the current funding system would generate more than $20 billion through 2012 for FAA capital expenditures including transformation of the air traffic control system and airport infrastructure improvements.

The current financing system is not broken.  It has reliably served the needs of the FAA for 40 years and has funded the safest, most vibrant and robust air transportation system in the world.  

If you want the general aviation community to continue to thrive and believe that the FAA needs the checks and balances of the U.S. Congress for management and budget oversight, the Washington Pilots Association urges you to oppose the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Act of 2007. 

Will you work with us, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and others in the general aviation community to develop a reasonable and balanced plan for financing the FAA and modernizing the air traffic control system?  The entire general aviation community is counting on your support.


Colleen Turner
Communications Director
Washington Pilots Association

WPA Members Running in WPA State Elections

WPA State Elections

The State offices which are up for re-election in 2007 are: President, Vice President West, Communications Director, Legislative Director and Director at Large. The following WPA members have stepped up to the plate and are running for State office.

John Dobson

Some of you know me . . . many of you do not. For those whom I have yet to meet please understand four things:
      1.                  I am passionate about aviation!
2.                  I am committed to reducing the volunteer workload within the Chapters!
3.                  I am committed to the State WPA becoming a political force.
4.                  And I have a plan!

If you have ever chaired a committee, served on a board or been honored with the trust of your membership to serve as an officer, you know the workload. We honor our volunteers by electing them for lifelong positions. Have you ever volunteered for a “lick & stick” mailing party, put together the Chapter newsletter or written bylaws? Have you ever hosted WINGS, chaired a hangar party, taught Aviation Academy or chaired an airport open house committee? I can answer yes to each and more. I know workload and I know how to reduce it!

Think back to a time when you were young and off to grandma’s house you went for Thanksgiving dinner . . . lots of relatives and all that food. Remember how all of the parents were sitting down at the adult table while the kids sat down around the floor or if we were lucky we sat at a dressed up card table? Ever get that same feeling when officials responsible for our airspace and landing facilities make decisions without inviting us to sit at the table? Politics is a process of getting connected. First we need to identify who is in charge . . . then we need to knock on their door.

My plan begins with the creation of the WPA Management System. I am talking about a complete database with every WPA member, every FAA licensed pilot, every political representative, every airport authority and every stakeholder that touches aviation. This database will be the backbone of this organization for all accounting, membership, communications and marketing . . . at the State level and at the Chapter level. Chapters will even be able to use it as a reservation system for monthly dinner meetings. This is not a pipedream . . . the online VISA payment is operational and phase one will be on line May 1, 2007.

In terms of a political force  . . . recall in 1996 WSDOT Aviation Division sponsored a bill that required communities near airports to adopt noise and safety overlays  . . . in effect identify incompatible land use areas around our airports. The city of Shelton just granted permission to a developer to begin construction of 80 homes on the approach end of runway 23. Why did they fail to comply with the 1996 law . . . they didn’t have the time. Did you know that 40% of the communities responsible for creating such overlays are still not in compliance? Kerri S. Woehler, Aviation Planner WSDOT has agreed to meet with our new board to begin our education on Land Use Compatibility. Once we get educated we will start knocking on doors.

Speaking of knocking on doors, does everyone know John Sibold? Does everyone know Mary Margaret Haugen? They just happen to be the two most influential people in the State of Washington regarding aviation. Who is the chairperson for WAMA? Do you know what WAMA is?  What are their goals and objectives?

Do we understand our own goals and objectives? We talk about the need to advance General Aviation. But what does that really mean? Serve as an officer of any Chapter and you know that it is the social fabric within the Chapter that holds this organization together. So, what is the value of the state organization . . . what does it do to support the chapters? Sad to say, many of our state officers have never managed a chapter. I have and I will build a “sandbox” big enough for every chapter to play in!

Tom Poberezny, President of EAA, has a lot to say about knowledge and information in the April issue of Sport Aviation Magazine. “The value of knowledge and information comes not from amassing it, but from sharing it”. The more each of us knows and understands, the easier our decisions and our tasks become. We have an obligation at the state level to do that research and then pass on that knowledge to you. Think about how AOPA has approached the issue of User Fees”. Every one of us knows the impact and what we need to do to stop it. We need to itemize everything that affects GA in Washington State, do the research and focus our energies!   

One final comment; I am not seeking this office to build a legacy or stroke my ego. I traveled to Alaska in spring of 2006 to research the success behind the Alaska Airmen’s Association. In 1996 their budget and membership were on par with the WPA. Today, they are four (4) times our size. They have four full time employees including a paid director and have an annual operating budget just under $400,000. They are in control of their future. Did you know they started in 1996 with a copy of our by-laws? They truly have earned that seat at the adult dinner table. It’s time we started knocking on doors!

Dave Desmon
Vice President West 

Dave is a long-time aviation enthusiast and supporter, Commercial & Instrument Rated Pilot, and owner of a 1948 Navion, which he recently restored.  Currently employed by Boeing as an Engineer, Dave is also the C.O. of the Cascade Warbirds, and a member of the Board of Directors and past V.P. of the NW Council of Airshows.

A passionate supporter of General Aviation, Dave believes that all pilots and aviation enthusiasts need to stand united and work together to head off the current threats to GA, including User Fees, Airspace grabs, Airport encroachment and closings, ill-advised calls to ban various segments of GA by sensationalizing politicians and media personnel, and onerous over-regulation.  And by the way, aviation ought to be fun.

A published aviation writer and photographer and former U.S. Naval Officer, some of Dave's other aviation affiliations include:
Vintage Aircraft Association
Puget Sound Antique Aircraft Association
Warbirds of America
Bremerton Pilots Association
American Navion Society
NW Navioneers

Colleen Turner
Communications Director
Colleen initially joined WPA in November 2005 after moving to Washington from sunny California.  While in California, she served as Secretary of the California Pilots Association and President of the San Carlos Airport Pilots Association.  She was also a member of the South Lake Tahoe Pilots Association.

In February 2006, Colleen was elected WPA’s Communications Director.  During the last year, she revitalized the WPA Web site (http://www.wpaflys.org) and continually keeps it updated.   She has recently taken on the responsibility of editing WPA Wings.  Colleen is also Vice President of WPA’s Greater Seattle Chapter and runs the annual WPA Toys for Tots Campaign, which involves the Greater Seattle, Green River, Paine Field and Harvey Field WPA Chapters.

With the development of a new WPA Web-based membership database and integrated management system, Colleen hopes to more frequently communicate via email with the membership.  When an airport is under threat, you will be receiving a call to action from Colleen!

In addition to her involvement with WPA, Colleen is the AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer for Renton Municipal Airport and is a member of the Renton Airport Advisory Committee.  She is a member of the Greater Seattle Chapter of the Ninety-Nines and the Washington Chapter of Women in Aviation.

Colleen has a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating and currently flies a Diamond DA-40.

Les Flue

Les Flue is seeking election to the position of Functional Director at Large position.


Les is a 1995 graduate of City University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management.  He is a licensed pilot with an Instrument rating.


Les has been a member of the WPA since 2003.  He currently serves as the Secretary to the WPA board and is an at-large member of the board for the Yakima Chapter of the WPA.  He is serving as the Yakima County representative to the Airport Board for the Yakima Air Terminal.  He served as a fire chief in Pierce County for 14 years and has served on the board for the Parkland-Spanaway Chamber of Commerce.  He is currently employed as the Vice-President of Products for a computer software company in Yakima where he manages product development and design, directs sales and marketing activities, and architects software solutions for clients.


The future for Aviation is both bright and challenging.  Nationally, aviation business is growing and the introduction of the new Sport Pilot License is contributing to a bright future.  At the same time, General Aviation is under attack, and we must remain ever vigilant.  Aviation is a catalyst for economic growth. It is an integral part of our economy, generating millions of jobs, and (nationally) represents 1 percent of the GDP.

The Washington State WPA must step up its efforts to advocate for the state-wide interests of General Aviation.   It is my passion to help promote General Aviation and to be a part of Aviation growth in the State of Washington.

I look forward to putting my blend of knowledge and experience into practice with the Washington Pilots Association Board.  I can be reached at 509-952-2376 at any time.  Thank you for your consideration.

John Townsley
Legislative Director

I am a long time member of the Okanogan and Ferry County Chapter of the Washington Pilots Association where I've held every job in the chapter.  I'm currently the Chapter Secretary and will continue in that position if I’m elected as Legislative Director.  In addition to my chapter office, I have served on the WPA Board of Directors as the Legislative Director since 2005. 

I'm not "running" for Legislative Director, rather I've been nominated and am willing to serve.  I believe the Washington Pilots Association can and should be active in shaping State aviation policy.  Given that I live several hours from Olympia, I am willing to defer to a WPA member who lives closer to the State Capitol and who can regularly meet with legislators on issues that may affect our interests as pilots and aircraft owners. 

There are several important initiatives at the State and Federal levels that demand our attention.  Anyone who reads email, visits any aviation blog or website, or who gets any aviation 'zine knows about the battle over the President's proposed new User Fees and enormous fuel tax hikes.  We in the Washington Pilots Association have a strong interest in retaining the current funding formula based on fuel taxes and general fund appropriations.  Whether we live in the Puget Sound or in rural eastern Washington, user fees would significantly impact the affordability of our flying. 

Whether we fly for business in a corporate jet, fly freight, are an ag operator flying an Agcat, fly air taxi under Part 135, or just do that weekend trip to a summer fly-in, fuel tax increases of 366% will hit us hard.  Add the user fees for flight following, weather briefings, etc. and the implications for general aviation in Washington are chilling. 

Fortunately, Washington is well represented on the House and Senate Aviation committees in Congress.  In the House, we have Representatives Rick Larsen and David Reichert, while in the Senate we have Senator Cantwell.  It is very important for every member of the Washington Pilots Association to contact Senator Cantwell, and for members who reside in congressional districts served by Larsen and Reichert to write and  urge them to reject the Bush proposals for user fees and enormous fuel tax hikes.

The Washington Aviation Division is in the midst of Phase 2 of a three phase process called the Long-Term Air Transportation Study (LATS).  The purpose of LATS is to assess existing aviation infrastructure and determine trends for the next 20 years.  LATS Phases 1 and 2 involve data collection and outreach to users of airports, pilots, and the general public.  Phase 1 was completed last year and Phase 2 will be finished in 2007.  Phase 3 will begin this fall, and will be completed by 2009.  A ten person Aviation Planning Council will be appointed by the Governor.   The Council will take data accumulated in phases 1 and 2 and conduct hearings around the State and develop recommendations for future legislation and executive action that will be presented to the Governor. 

We all agree it is a good thing to periodically assess the health of airports, determine trends, and evaluate how best to address aviation's future needs.  Unfortunately, the primary focus of the assessment is on commercial aviation.   None of the required members of the Aviation Planning Council are from general aviation user groups, smaller airports, or rural communities.  Membership is very heavily tilted toward large airports, State and Federal Agencies, and the airlines. 

It is important that the Washington Pilots Association work with the Aviation Division, the State Legislature, and other general aviation groups to educate members of the Aviation Planning Council about the importance of general aviation.  Every member of the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives has several airports in his or her district and should therefore understand that long term aviation policy should not have a "primary focus...on commercial aviation".  WAAS, Very Light Jets, and other emerging technologies will increase demand for safe, well maintained, and well dispersed aviation infrastructure throughout Washington.  I will do my part to educate my State Senators and Representatives about why GA must not be ignored and I hope each member of the Washington Pilots Association will do likewise.

From time to time I will write articles for WINGS to inform our membership of the status of LATS and other legislation that may be before the State Legislature.  During my two year term of office as Legislative Director I will work with our association president and other officers on behalf of our membership to educate and inform our legislators about the importance and value of general aviation to Washington.

WPA’s Newest Board Members

WPA’s Newest Board Members

Rebecca Desmon
Membership Director
As a farm/ranch kid in Arizona, I started flying at about age 13, in a neighbor's trusty J-3 Cub. I attended a local collegiate flight program, and later became involved with warbirds in the Phoenix area. After moving to Spokane, I gave instruction, flew pipeline and so forth, while being active in the Spokane WPA Chapter as well as the 99s. I've gotten more involved with warbirds, airshows and air racing over the years, and vintage airplanes remain a strong passion. 

I spent a year in Oregon flying for the (Lancair) Columbia folks, and I'm now living in the Seattle area with husband Dave and daughter Cole.  With almost three pilots in the house, it's a real challenge to see who gets the two front seats in the Navion! She's hangared at Paine Field, and we fly numerous airshows each summer with the Cascade Warbirds. In addition, I mentor three students at the Aviation High School near Boeing Field, and remain an active flight instructor. Just a typical pilot doing several things at once! 

Jeff Renfrow
Safety and Education Director
My beginnings in aviation started from a conversation with a friend while fishing on Lake Roosevelt in the summer of 1988.  He had been a chopper pilot in Vietnam; so, in passing, I told him of my long time fascination with flight.    He suggested that I go over to an FBO at GEG [Spokane International] and start taking lessons.  Not only that, but I should have a goal (like visiting Oshkosh someday)!

I took my first dual flight in a Beech Skipper on April 11, 1989.  I still have a hard time believing that I landed that plane back at GEG without help from the instructor. After only seven lessons I had flown with five different instructors.  I had also been trying to complete a college degree; so, I waited until I completed that goal to go back to flying.

By Sept. of 1990, the FBO at Spokane International had changed ownership with not a single Skipper in sight!  So, I went over to Felts Field and walked into ‘Kieran Aviation’ where this gruff, stocky, man was standing behind the counter.  I asked him a few questions like—How long have you been instructing?  What kind of planes do you have?  Can I fly with the same instructor throughout my ENTIRE training? –WELL!  His name was Jim Kieran and told me that he had owned the place for over 15 years and wasn’t going anyplace.  He pointed to a tall young Swedish man and said that his name was ‘TJ.’, and that he had just been hired, so he would not be going anywhere for a long time.

The next day, Sept. 20, 1990, I returned to my training in a very old Cessna 150, tail #3819J.  During that lesson TJ and I made an agreement---He would teach me to fly and I would teach him to say JULIET not YULIET!  We became good friends.  I studied with him throughout my instrument rating [moving up to a C172].  I helped as a volunteer and served on the committee for the Felts Field Air-fairs during the early 90’s, doing anything possible to make these events a success.  By this time, I had decided to continue working towards becoming a flight instructor.  I purchased a 1953 ‘D’ model Bonanza and began flying as much cross-country as possible.   This was a challenging experience, since I had chosen an aircraft that was not just a ‘time builder’; but, a “Complex-High Performance” aircraft.  

In 1994, I decided to fulfill the goal that was instilled in me back in 1988.  I went to Oshkosh . . . in my own plane…in formation with 63 OTHER BONANZAS!  WOW, THAT was arriving!  I repeated the trip the following year with 131 other Bonanzas (Barons & Debonairs).  I think that is still in the record books as the LARGEST GENERAL AVIATION FORMATION FLIGHT! 

TJ went on to work for Horizon Airlines while I continued on to become a Flight Instructor.  For me, this ‘profession’ is as good as life could ever possibly be. That is: teaching and sharing the wonderful challenge of FLIGHT!  I am currently a volunteer Aviation Safety Advisor!  This position is known as the “FAASTEAM”.  Ask me about it sometime!

Airports Beware
Submitted 1/11/2007
By Jack Krause
WPA Member at Large and Association of Sanderson Pilots Member

Remember the relief we felt within the aviation community back in 1998 when the State of Washington passed a law requiring all communities to develop zones to protect airports from encroachment by incompatible development? 

Here is a BIG RED FLAG, folks. You had better check what your local governments have done, because we found that the City government of Shelton feels they are above the law and have yet to fulfill this requirement.  What is more astounding is even though the Port of Shelton, which governs the  Sanderson Airport, has complied and published a State approved  protective zone, the City recently gave the go ahead for the construction of a housing development inside the Port’s area. When challenged on their decision, the City merely said that since the City had no protective zone established, there was no legal basis on which to deny the construction – even though they have had eight years and considerable urging by the State to comply with the overlay protective zone law. It causes one to speculate why it is called a “law.”  We ordinary citizens are obligated to abide by the law.  Why not governments?

As a means of appeasement by the City for those who objected, there was a proviso in the approval for the construction that signs would be posted and sales documents would include information denoting the area as being in a noise zone.  As we lose one airport a week in this Country to incompatibility, how could any responsible government official be so naive?

WSDOT Aviation and the Association of Sanderson Pilots (ASP) have formally offered any and all assistance in developing this required overlay, but the City refuses to comply saying they will have it done by March, 2007.  Of course they also said they would have it completed by December, 2005.  What concerns ASP is there is still nothing in place to deny any other construction site bid within the airport zone between now and March, 2007.

Most of us have little time to peruse the legal pages to see if we are getting blind-sided like we just did, but it is a fact of life.  This project was “made available to the public” in a three inch by one column wide article in the weekly Mason County Journal with a fourteen day public comment period.  It was an article mainly of legalese gobbledygook with the title of, “NOTICE OF MITIGATED DETERMINATION OF NONSIGNIFICANCE SHELTON SPRINGS SUBDIVISION.”  Truly. 

Be aware of what we are facing, or you too will end up seeing the precursor of the end of your airport caused by uninformed government officials who possess very little foresight and feel they are above the law.  You are strongly urged to check with the governing body of your airport to make sure they have complied.  Word has it that only about fifty percent have complied.

Note:  In 1996, the Washington State Legislature passed amendments to the Growth Management Act (GMA) to require local governments to protect public-use airports.  The law requires all towns, cities, and counties to adopt comprehensive plan policies to implement regulations to discourage incompatible land uses adjacent to public use airports.  The law also directs WSDOT to provide local communities with assistance to comply with the law.  According to WSDOT’s “Measures, Markers and Mileposts: The Gray Notebook for the Quarter Ending March 31, 2006,” these efforts are resulting in proactive land use protection programs for 65 of Washington State’s 139 public-use airports.  Statewide, 32 towns and cities and 19 counties have adopted, or are currently working with WSDOT to adopt comprehensive plan policies and development regulations.

Columbia River Crossing and Pearson Airfield (VUO)
Submitted 1/5/2007
By John Townsley
WPA Legislative Director

Last September I received an email from Nisha at the Washington Aviation Division announcing a public meeting in Vancouver.  The meeting was part of the scoping process for replacing the bridge.  It seems the I-5 bridge over the Columbia can no longer handle existing traffic.  Projected traffic counts in the next 20 years will completely overwhelm it.  Replacement alternatives include provisions for light rail, special bus lanes, and more capacity for autos.  There are basically three locations being considered:  reconstructing the existing bridge, building a new structure to the west of the existing bridge, and building a new structure east of the current bridge.  Reconstructing the bridge is a great idea for commuters and businesses on both sides of the river.  It may, or may not, be such a great idea for pilots who use VOU or PDX.  It’s useful to know that navigation interests are very interested, and would like to see a higher bridge, with a lot more river clearance.  Think about that for a moment.

The Columbia River I-5 bridge project started nearly seven years ago.  According to the project timeline several alternatives will be fleshed out in 2007, the preferred alternative will be selected in 2008, and construction could begin as early as 2009.  All alternatives considered are compared to the existing bridge (the “no action” alternative). 

Pilots seldom think of bridges, rivers, and airports as related.  So for many of us, it was a surprise to learn that the main Interstate 5 bridge between Portland Oregon and Vancouver Washington might create a problem for airplanes and pilots.  Many times when I’ve flown into the Class C airspace over Portland I’ve been told to “watch for the I-5 bridge” as I approached Vancouver’s Pearson Airfield (VUO).  The bridge across the Columbia has been in place for well over half a century.  It’s a familiar sight, marking the west end of Pearson and it is a landmark that helps me find Portland International Airport (PDX).

The existing bridge could be improved, from an air safety standpoint.  Figure 1 is from the Columbia Crossing Navigation Fact Sheet.  It shows that the existing bridge towers already intrude into the VUO approach.  Because of the good work by Sean Loughran, VUO airport manager, the design team is well aware of aviation safety concerns.  In public meetings Sean has pointed out that “the bridge design, particularly the vertical elements, is a significant concern in maintaining a safe and viable airport.”

Figure 1. Existing I-5 Bridge profile and Pearson Airpark airspace.

Of course, the height of the bridge is only part of the problem.  A brightly lighted bridge may make it difficult for pilots making night landings.  If the structure is built to be ‘bird friendly’ with lots of inviting perches, that also will create unsafe conditions for aircraft.

Sean needs our help to educate the Columbia Crossing design team.  A major “problem” to be solved with the new bridge is to improve river navigation.  Sean needs WPA and concerned pilots to explain why improving river navigation must not degrade aviation safety.  The project continues to ask for public input on alternative bridge designs.  Visit the project website and give them your input at:  http://www.columbiarivercrossing.org/contactUS.aspx. If you prefer, you can call them at (503) 256-2726 or Toll Free (866) 396-2726.  You can also write to them at:  Columbia River Crossing Project, 700 Washington Street, Suite 300 - Vancouver, WA 98660. Tell the project designers why it is important to protect the airspace at VUO.  Explain why aviation safety is so important, and why you, personally would like the new bridge to be aviation friendly.

WPA members who live in the Portland-Vancouver area can support VUO by attending one or more public meetings.  Several meetings are planned during January to present the bridge alternatives and discuss public wishes.  Visit the project website for dates, times, and locations.

An Airport for a Trail?
Submitted 1/5/2007
By Jim Combs
Chairman, King County International Roundtable

In November 2006, Ron Sims, County Executive for King County, and Mic Dinsmore, CEO for the Port of Seattle, announced a multi prong proposal to preserve and enhance recreational opportunities in King County and to make several improvements to the rail transportation network in the region.  The portion of the proposal that has garnered most of the headlines is the transfer of King County International Airport/Boeing Field (KBFI) from the County to the Port of Seattle in return for the Port purchasing a rail corridor east of Lake Washington that Burlington Northern Santa Fe wants to abandon.

Since the announcement, most of the press and discussion has focused on whether or not trading an airport for a trail is a good idea.  There are debates about what each is worth to the County and the region and the fact Boeing Field is revenue neutral to the County whereas the trail will require the expenditure of public tax dollars.  While these debates are interesting and raise the interest of a greater portion of the population, from an aviation perspective, I suggest this is the wrong issue to debate.

From the perspective of pilots and other members of the aviation community, I think the more appropriate issue to consider is:  What entity can best manage Boeing Field to serve the needs of both the aviation community and the citizens of King County?  As I see this issue, there are three options:  1) King County; 2) the Port of Seattle; or 3) some other entity, public or private.

The primary needs of the aviation community with regard to Boeing Field are reasonable access at prices that will ensure the viability of the businesses located on the airport.  As long as we can fly into and out of Boeing Field without unreasonable delay and at a reasonable cost, do we as pilots really care who owns and operates the airport?

While Bob Burke, Airport Director, and his staff have done an admirable job of managing Boeing Field and seem to understand that changes need to be made in some of its practices and policies if the airport is to remain viable; it is clear to me that other members of the County’s Executive branch do not understand what is required to manage an airport yet will not allow those who do the freedom to manage it.  So, if the proposed transfer to the Port of Seattle is not approved, what will be the fate of Boeing Field?  That is very hard to say, but significant enhancements in its viability are not likely for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, the Port of Seattle has the expertise and the will to manage an airport.  There are many in the community who may not like the Port’s policies and practices, but SeaTac operates as smoothly as any other commercial airport in the country.  Most of the community dislike for the Port regarding SeaTac is in relation to the third runway.

While the Port has the resources and staff (20 times that of Boeing Field) to run a commercial service airport, Boeing Field is a very different animal than is SeaTac.  At a recent Roundtable meeting, Mark Reis, Aviation Director for the Port, indicated the Port has one tenant contract repeated 26 times (one for each airline serving the airport).  Boeing Field has somewhere around 100 different contracts with varying conditions.  Some of this is the result of past management practices, but much is a reflection of the range of businesses and operators that are based at Boeing Field.

An issue that links Boeing Field and SeaTac is how the airspace in the region will be managed to assure the smooth flow of planes into and out of all the airports affected by SeaTac operations.  Currently, the approaches to SEA RWY 16L and 16R pass over the center of Boeing Field.  A question I have raised this year and as of yet do not have a good answer to is:  where will the approach for the SEA third runway cross BFI?  Simple logic indicates it will cross BFI approximately 1,700 feet closer to the approach end of BFI RWY 13.  Will this affect operations into BFI?  We do not know.  What about the impact on the VFR arrival/departure route from BFI over West Seattle?  We do not know. 

The FAA is initiating a regional airspace study to consider this and other issues.  With the third runway at SEA due to open in 2009, that study will happen quickly.  While this airspace study would have occurred with or without the proposal to transfer ownership of BFI to the Port, would the transfer be a good thing for BFI in that Port staff may be more effective in working with the FAA … or would it be a bad thing in that Port staff would lobby to meet SEA’s needs to the detriment of BFI?

Regardless of the outcome of the BFI ownership issue, WPA members need to stay tuned into this airspace study and the impact it will have on many airports in the region.

There are many other issues unresolved regarding the proposed ownership change for Boeing Field.  The Roundtable will continue to investigate and monitor action to implement the proposal at its monthly meetings the second Monday of each month.

I would like to hear from WPA members regarding their thoughts about the proposed change in ownership (I really do not want to hear about trail or swap issues … just ownership issues).  What concerns do each of you have?  What issues have not been discussed yet?  I have received some preliminary comment from AOPA suggesting their concern is one of access and economics for users; not one of ownership.

I expect this proposal will either die an early death or be a key point of discussion for much of 2007.  Even if this proposal dies, the underlying issue of who should own and operate Boeing Field remains.  And, do not lose site of the airspace issues.

Back to the original question:  an airport for a trail?  I suggest we do not enter that debate as representatives of WPA or any other pilots group.  We need to stay focused on the airport management and operations issues that directly affect us as pilots.


Jim Combs chairs the King County International Roundtable where he represents pilots organizations (WPA and AOPA).  He is a past WPA State President and Seattle Chapter President.  Please send comments to jc-bfiswap@comcast.net.  Jim will be speaking about this issue at the WPA Greater Seattle Chapter Meeting on Tuesday, February 20, 7:00pm to be held at the Boeing Field terminal building in conference room 110.  

Differing Opinions About the Proposed Change of Ownership of Boeing Field
As you may or may not know, there is a proposed asset swap being considered (and endorsed) by King County Executive Ron Sims and others.  It proposes to give the Port of Seattle a $400,000,000 asset - Boeing Field/King County International Airport, to the Port of Seattle in exchange for a railway line to be used as a hiking trail!  This would be very bad news for the users and tenants of Boeing Field, as the Port would be far less receptive to user's concerns.  I urge you to express your views now, before too much momentum builds for this silly and imprudent idea.

Article explaining the negatives of the swap:


Please write to the King County Council - here is the contact information:


Jeffrey C. Mirsepasy
Airport Support Network
Seattle Tacoma Intl Airport

Bowerman Field at Risk
Submitted 1/5/2007
By Fred Winge
Twin Harbors Chapter President
Airports are one of our nation’s most valuable transportation commodities and yet, week after week one hears of airports being closed or operations significantly restricted by politicos bowing to the clamor of a largely non-flying community and/or special interest groups coveting the land the airport sits on to use for their own purposes.  At this time, Bowerman Field at Hoquiam is one of these endangered facilities.

The Port of Grays Harbor commissioners, whether acting on their own opinion or by listening to bad advice from the Port staff, had authorized the executive director to petition the FAA to be "released from federal surplus property disposal restrictions at Bowerman Field," in order to explore other opportunities to develop Terminal 3, the former Rayonier property on Moon Island, and adjacent land, including the airport.

The FAA only needed five days to reach a decision.  In a brief but strong denial of the Port's Nov. 1 request, the FAA responded in a Nov. 6 letter written by Paul Johnson, civil engineer and compliance specialist with the Seattle office of the FAA, that the department rejected the release because:  Bowerman Field is a vital and integral part of the Harbor's transportation infrastructure, not only for Hoquiam and Aberdeen, but for the entire coast of Washington; Bowerman is a vital part of the national aviation system of airports; and, the airport is obligated federally.

Further, the FAA said a new and equally adequate replacement airport would have to be constructed and operational before release of the present facility would be considered, and lastly, "Unless the FAA determines closing of an airport to be in the best interest of aviation, we will take whatever action we deem appropriate to prevent closure of an obligated airport.”

Does this mean the Port will now abandon closure plans for the airport?   I seriously doubt it.  The Port has hired Pacific International Engineering as a consultant and this company has a pretty good pipeline to Congressman Norm Dicks who is a powerful entity in the other Washington and the FAA’s decision can be overridden by Congressional action.

So what can we do?   We all need to work together to preserve the airports we have left and our right to fly and we need to support WPA and AOPA to continue the fight against these threats on the local, state and national levels.

FAA Error...Orcas Island
Posted 12/7/2006
By Jim Smith
WPA President
For some reason, the CTAF for Orcas has been listed as 122.9 in the Facilities Directory and the latest sectional.  It is still 128.25.  The Port of Orcas office said the correct frequency will be back on the sectional and in the ugly green book in the next edition.  Supposedly there is still talk of changing the frequency for the San Juan Islands.  Meanwhile, the CTAF remains 128.25 for the San Juans.

Washington Pilots Association - PMB 397 - 227 Bellevue Way NE - Bellevue, WA 98004-4721