Recently there has been some heated discussion about a proposal to the House National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310) which would not allow the transfer of military surplus aircraft to civilian control including flying them. We who love aviation and attend airshows look forward to seeing the Warbirds on display and flying. They serve as a reminder by their presence and sound of the cost of freedom this country enjoys.
This legislation is towards aircraft, but in the recent past other military surplus equipment and vehicles have been targeted unfairly. In some states, military vehicles were denied licenses to operate on public roadways. No one expects a Sherman tank to be seen driving down public highways, but one does expect to see Jeeps, Ambulances and Cargo Trucks as they make their way to shows, parades and ceremonies. Not many would use these as their daily drivers to work!
These vehicles were considered unsafe because they didn’t have the modern safety features other vehicles they shared the road with had. Some of the vintage and antique automobile owners quickly pointed out that the cars, vans and pickups they drove also didn’t have safety equipment either…they weren’t included by the original manufacturer of the vehicle yet they were able to secure license plates.
Aircraft accidents occur, whether they be brand new or old, military or civilian. Those behind the legislation worry about poor maintenance and training, yet we will often find operators that fly both military and nonmilitary aircraft who also fail to comply with established regulations regarding operation, maintenance and crew proficiency. Even our armed forces have had accidents which were the direct result of the very things this piece of legislation wants to prevent…poor practices and judgement.
So this amendment in my opinion is biased and prejudiced and serves nothing towards adding to the overall safety of flying by removing vintage military aircraft from our skies.
What’s next? What choices will you no longer be able to make or do in pursuit of enjoying your country’s heritage? The banning of historical reenactments? The collection from private parties of all surplus military items?
Fortunately those proposing and supporting this legislation are in the minority, but as we all know that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t make its way through the process and signed into law. Contact your Congressional representatives to squash this proposal.