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Florida Legislation Withdrawn

Dear Mr. Sanderson,

Thank you for your recent email regarding House Bill 251.

As you may know, I have withdrawn that bill prior to introduction into the House. In short, I have no intentions of pursuing that bill any longer. From your letter, your organization sounds like a source of great enjoyment for you and your members. I appreciate you taking the time and sharing your concerns with me.

Thanks again, Stan
Rep. Stan Mayfield, District 80
221 Capitol 402 S Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

Following is the text of the position letter sent by SSA to Representative Mayfield:

January 2002

Dear Representative Mayfield,

I am writing to you today concerning the draft legislation titled HR251 regarding improved security measures for schools offering flight training services in Florida.

By way of introduction, I am the President of the Soaring Society of America the national non-profit association representing approximately 14,000 gliding pilots and operations throughout the United States. Gliding, as I am sure you know, operates under various sections of the Federal Aviation Regulations including pilot licensing and aircraft certification and licensing rules.

Gliding operations come basically in two forms. The first are small, private clubs of individuals who join together in joint ownership of gliders and supporting towplanes. These operations, for the most part, offer towing services to gliders, limited flight instruction to people seeking only a glider rating and, in some cases, scenic rides. The second kind of operation is what we term a "commercial" operation or, in common terms, a Fixed Base Operator (FBO). These operators are small for-profit organizations that provide limited flight training for gliders, scenic local rides and glider rental services.

The modern glider, or sailplane, is a craft capable of sustained flight but limited in direction, distance and speed capability. It is used entirely for recreation and not for transport or travel. The average glider weighs less than 1,000 pounds and has very limited instrumentation.

In short…gliders present no strategic threat to life or property.

We in the Soaring Society well understand the new security concerns that have grown out of the tragic events of September 11th. What we are concerned about is that new rules and regulations that are intended to manage the risk presented by students learning to fly complex aircraft may place an unbearable regulatory and cost burden on small fight operations that present no credible threat.

Further; flight training in gliders is at such a basic and low level as to present no threat from the individual being able to command a powered aircraft for terror purposes.

The preliminary terminology in your proposed legislation ties to the presence of a medical certificate for the student pilot. In gliding we do not have a requirement for a medical certificate which would make for a very complex enforcement process.

What we ask is that you evaluate the lack of threat presented by gliders and small gliding operations and adjust the language of your bill to relieve these folks from an unrealistic set of requirements that would do little or nothing to improve the security we all seek.

From our perspective, if you agree with our assessment, the best solution in terms of specific language would be to state that the legislation applies to "airplanes and rotorcraft." This terminology would specifically exclude gliders as they do not fall under the definition of "airplanes."

We understand that you are undoubtedly being bombarded with comments and suggestions concerning this legislation. It is not our intent to add to the volume of your correspondence without offering a proposed solution. We feel that an adjustment to the language as indicated above would help to focus the bill at the flight training level most likely to present security related issues while allowing small, sport flyers who use very light, no-payload aircraft to go about their activities in a normal fashion.

If I can be of any assistance or you have any questions please feel free to contact me or our volunteer SSA State Governor in Florida, Mr. Burt Compton (his e-mail is fbcompton@aol.com).

Thank you for your kind consideration of our views.


Larry Sanderson
The Soaring Society of America
PO Box E
Hobbs, NM 88241


Posted: 1/28/2002 By: General News

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