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"'Private pilots flying; restrictions remain"



Saturday, September 22, 2001

Private pilots flying; restrictions remain 
By NATALIE MORRIS
The State Journal-Register - Springfield, (Il)


Practically the only thing flight instructors Kyle Lyons and Mark Bonani
have manned lately are the phone lines at McClelland Aviation Co.

The bulk of their students taking flight lessons at the Capital Airport
business are still grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration's ban
on entry-level aviation instruction.

It is one of the few areas in the aviation industry that has not been
restored since the federal agency shutdown all air traffic Sept. 11
after several commercial airliners were hijacked and flown into the
World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. 

There's been no indication when the ban on visual flight rules training
might be lifted.

"The last two weeks have been pretty much answering phone calls from
people wanting to known what they can and can't do," Bonani said.

It's been similarly quiet the past 10 days at Jacksonville Municipal
Airport, where air traffic is entirely made up of private pilots and
flight lessons. The ban on private planes was just lifted this week.

"Nothing was going on at all until two days ago, when the private pilots
were allowed to take off. There's one taking off right now," airport
manager Don Bangert said, as a plane roaring down the runway eclipsed
his voice. "It's still fewer planes than normal. Our flight school is
shut down. We didn't sell any fuel for two weeks. It's costing our
operation a lot."

Bangert estimated lost fuel sales alone between $2,000 and $4,000.

Aviation mechanics who work on private planes also have been hurt. If
planes don't fly, little repair work is necessary.

Lyons said he struggles to understand the reasoning behind what the FAA
is and is not allowing.

While private pilots carry photographers and skydivers, instructors
can't take novice students up, and advertising banners are a no-no.

"Certain things we can't do just don't make a whole lot of sense to us,"
he said.

But Bangert said he understands the delay.

"With a lot of early students, they haven't taken their entry test and
received their license, so there is no record of them," he said. "I can
see in the future there'll be screening of all new pilots, just like gun
owners. But that sometimes takes up to six weeks. I hope it doesn't take
that long."

Pilot Jim Bredemeyer is the captain of Levi, Ray & Shoup's private
fleet. The biggest impact on corporate planes will be more of an
inconvenience than a hindrance, he said. He used to be able to call
ahead for the rental car to be waiting on the runway when the plane
arrived. Now, security measures bar any road vehicles from being on the
runway, and all passengers must be escorted into the airport upon
arrival.

"But that's pretty much it for our increased security," he said. "We're
not like a commercial flight. They don't know who they've got on the
plane. We know who is on our planes. We can vouch for them."

Private pilot Ralph Hurwitz hasn't been in the cockpit since the
terrorist attacks. That thought is bearable only because he was out of
the country for the bulk of that time.

Today, he'll be back in the air for the first time, doing a casual
flight relying on visual markers, rather than airplane instruments.
Hurwitz is licensed for both, but he's in the mood to meander a bit.
Instrument flights must be filed with the FAA before take off and the
federal agency monitors the flight from take off to landing.

As of Friday afternoon, Hurwitz had yet to decide just where his
pleasure flight would take him.

Of course, by the new FAA rules he'll have to steer clear of airports in
metropolitan areas and large outdoor sporting events.

"I'm just going to get a cup of coffee and a sandwich and brush up a
bit," he said. "I don't think I'll find things all that different, but I
won't know until I talk to the (control) tower."

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