Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thank You Army for Listening

When you host a large aviation event, you never like to see mass NOTAMS warning of large military training exercises in your area. That’s what recently happened to us.
Arriving in the mail, a few months back we received an envelope with printed NOTAM information. Basically, all the MOA’s to our north were going to be active for training UN pilots in American airspace during the time of the fly-in. You see, not that long ago, the military made a massive unnecessary airspace grab in our area that places MOA’s well over a hundred miles wide to our north.
When we wrote to describe our objections to this NOTAM and planned military exercise due to traffic that would be enroute to the fly-in, we didn’t hold out much hope for a response. Amazingly though and to our surprise, very soon after that letter left the mailbox we received a call from the Army’s Matt Sweeney. He had a question; what can I do to help? Yes, you read that right, his question was “What can I do to help?”
I must admit, at first I was doubtful.  But sensing this, Mr. Sweeney stopped the conversation and explained. Apparently, the military has been taking heat from people like us for their airspace grabs and exercises. If you weren’t aware of it, the government took a lot of airspace a few years back with little to no fight from our aviation groups. Some even said our military needed this space but they seem to have forgotten we won the Cold War with much less.  Unfortunately, being politically connected in the way our aviation groups are is not always a good thing. Often it means they give in to easy to their friends in D.C. and leave the real fight to the little people who are paying their salaries. Anyway, it was clear to me that for some reason, in this fight, we had a new friend.
Mr. Sweeney then went on to explain the Army had realized if they didn’t start working with people like us, then we as citizens would beat on our Congressional Representatives doors enough to where they could start losing more than just airspace. Therefore, they found people like Mr. Sweeney and put him in charge of solving this problem.
Now, before I to on to tell you how helpful Mr. Sweeney was, I would like to take this moment to say "you're welcome" to all those people who get upset when folks like me kick and scream about such things as airspace grabs. Personally, I’ve just had it with people who see the government like an alcoholic wife beating husband we shouldn’t question because he might get upset and start beating us. Sitting in a corner hoping you never get beat again while thinking about how nice they are when they aren’t high on booze (power) is the first paragraph in the novel titled “How to Lose”.
Opposing the book “How to Lose” is one titled “How to Win”. The first paragraph in that hard back is titled “Never Give Up”. If you don’t want aviation to die, don’t give up, raise the pressure, and as much as you may not like it, you have to realize politics will either be the end or saviour of aviation. Turning a back to it solves nothing. Take this case for example. Mr. Sweeney did everything he could to make sure our event was not effected. That didn’t happen because the Army looked around and said, “What could we do to make an individual’s day brighter?” Instead, they simply realized the power of citizens and did what they could so resolve those problems. But don't get me wrong; the military isn't the enemy.
I personally do not believe the military looks for ways to anger citizens. Instead, I think the most likely reason for mistakes made in the past by the military is the sign of an organization with no citizen participants. To be represented, people must give their input. Therefore, when people assume anyone, anything, or any organization is going to take care of them and that they do not need to stay up to date on the subject matter or give their input, then it is quite easy for a person or organization, such as the Army, to become out of touch. That’s how you end up with bad policy.
Yet, when citizens take an active role you get what you have here.  The Army is being proactive and being a friend to us.  This is great.  I love it.  And I hope it continues.

OH WAIT!  I left out the best part.  Mr. Sweeney said that because of the fly-in, they were going to limit, during daylight hours, the hot airspace to 5000' and above and would not be using the A and B MOAs they had planned to make "hot" during the fly-in and the week leading up to it so that all our traffic would be able to traverse the area with no issues.  Don't forget, there are one or two RESTRICTED areas to the north that you cannot pass through.  But those have been there a long time and are not very big. 

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