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General Aviation Legal Defense Fund

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Old May 11th 04, 10:43 PM
Dr. Guenther Eichhorn
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Default General Aviation Legal Defense Fund

Here is a news release for the General Aviation Defense Fund.
This is something that can potentially affect a lot of pilots.

************************************************** ***********


WESTBOROUGH, Mass. - (May 11, 2004) - A group of citizen-pilots in
Massachusetts are banding together, and asking for financial support,
to thwart legal action aimed at curtailing the freedom to utilize
legal airspace over the state.

The General Aviation Legal Defense Fund (GALDF) was established to
raise the one hundred thousand dollars (or more) necessary to fight
this effort, which could jeopardize the training and safety of general
aviation pilots and passengers in New England. The case also
threatens to impact other pilots who fly for business and recreation
throughout the country, if this action becomes a precedent.

The legal action, filed by landowners in exclusive residential areas
in Massachusetts, claims that general-aviation flights over their
properties, towns, and neighboring towns are a "nuisance." The
lawsuit also contends that these homeowners should be compensated for
their alleged inability to use their property. The group behind the
lawsuit demands that general aviation pilots purchase tracts of land
large enough to pursue their activity.

"This disturbing lawsuit has the potential to severely cripple general
aviation throughout the country because it allows a group of
well-to-do property owners to 'fence off' the public airspace and
dictate national policy," said Stephen Cunningham, GALDF spokesman.
"We have continually looked to work with this group and come to an
even-handed compromise, and we still offer to work toward a solution.
Instead, this group has sued individual pilots in the hope of keeping
them grounded. Aside from the aviation safety, navigation, and legal
implications this could mean for all pilots, this is an ominous sign
for Americans' personal freedom."

Other aviation groups are deeply concerned as well. Phil Boyer,
president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, said in his
April, 2004 President's Position column: "every pilot in the United
States could be adversely affected by this case... This is a case we
must win to prevent a dangerous precedent."

The individual pilots named as defendants in the suit did not break
any Federal Aviation Regulations, according to the Federal Aviation
Administration, which studied more than 30 private flights cited by
the wealthy homeowners.

The suit does not allege any violations of Federal Aviation
Regulations. The lawsuit was filed after FAA refused to privatize
airspace over these exclusive rural properties, as federal law states
that the national airspace was established to be open to all legal
operations. Ironically, two of the plaintiffs in the case purchased
their properties when a U.S. Army air base (since decommissioned for
budgetary reasons) was still active less than one mile away.

The group behind the lawsuit states their goals very clearly: They aim
to ban legal recreational flying over their own properties. Some of
the plaintiffs are founding members of an organization entitled "Stop
The Noise", which demands aircraft must be channeled into narrow
corridors and over property purchased exclusively for aviation uses.
The group filing the suit also makes no claim of proper noise levels
or any scientific analysis of the issue.

"We are trying to defend nothing less than legally pursued personal
freedom," Cunningham said. "If successful, this lawsuit would have a
chilling impact for much more than recreational flying. It would open
any legal pursuit done in public space - land, air or water - to be
judged outside of an individual's arbitrary standards. Activities
such as motor boating, motorcycling, snowmobiling or ATV four wheeling
is at the same risk. Additionally, time honored home owner chores
like lawn mowing and snowplowing or even chainsaw use for yard work
could become included in this action. These things have a way of
being taken to extremes. It would theoretically allow a person to
claim that school buses driving down a street, children on bicycles or
even whistling on a public sidewalk to be arbitrarily deemed 'too
loud' by any individual who wishes to create his own personal bubble
of silence."

The General Aviation Legal Defense Fund needs private contributions to
help stop this assault on personal freedom. To donate on-line or
obtain additional information, visit www.gadefensefund.org or send
contributions to:

General Aviation Legal Defense Fund
Suite 6, Box 368
290 Turnpike Road
Westborough MA 01581

Donations are not tax deductible, and GALDF is not associated with any
other established organization.

Guenther Eichhorn |
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, MA

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