Angel Flight Central (and Others) Threatened!

June 9, 2009

In one year alone, more than 35,000 people, many of them Hoosiers received needed medical attention thanks in part to a group called ‘Angel Flight Central’ and hundreds of volunteer pilots.

Now those same pilots say they could be grounded by new fees the Federal Aviation Administration wants congress to approve.

For Tonya Woods, Angel Flight Central was truly a godsend

The volunteer organization flew Woods to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota last October where she was diagnosed with rectal cancer and began lifesaving treatment.

“Without Angel Flights, a lot of people can’t get medical attention they need, and it’s real nice of the pilots. They fly with their own plane, with their own fuel.”

Pilots like Dan McElroy retired from Delta and donates his time and resources to help those in need.

But new ‘user fees’ proposed by the FAA may clip McElroy’s wings and those of other pilots under the umbrella of ‘General Aviation.’

That’s basically anyone who doesn’t fly for the airlines of the military.

“They want to tax us for tower use, for ground control use, if we want to call and get the weather to fly our airplane. They want to tax us for that. Every time we want to take off, they want to tax us. Every time we land, they want to tax us.”

McElroy says the current system of generating funds through fuel taxes is fairer, but he believes the airlines are looking for a way to shift their rising costs.

“With the increased burden of these user fees it will cut back to how many hours I can fly, how many people I can help. It will also cut back how much training I can do to stay current, and some people will get costed right out being able to fly.”

The proposed user fees could also mean big bills for future pilots like Clint Hill who will start aviation school at Indiana State in the fall.

“It’s already pretty pricey to go through the flight program at a college because you pay for the normal part of college and you also pay for flight training and everything, so to add even more would be pretty difficult.”

“I really hate if they don’t be here cause I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”

Dan McElroy says he hopes people in Indiana and other states write to their congressmen and women and ask them not to support these new fees.

Copyright © 2009, WXIN-TV, Indianapolis
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