Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You Might be a Pilot if...

(original post 2/16/2010)

I came up with a some of these (some actually true) and the rest I found elsewhere on the internet.

You might be a (workaholic) pilot if:

You fly for a living five days a week, and on your weekend you fly on a commercial airliner to a distant city and rent a plane to fly on Saturday afternoon "just for fun".

You own a house that you haven't seen in a month and have a girlfriend you haven't seen in two weeks.

Someone cuts in front of you on the freeway and you say to yourself "too close for missles, switching to guns".

When someone wakes you up from a deep sleep, the first thing you say is "Starcheck four twenty one cleared visual approach, contact tower twenty five point seven".

You bring your laptop with you when you fly so you can pass the time enroute by playing Microsoft Flight Simulator.

The weather channel is interesting to you.

Your Chevy Aveo crew car seems very roomy to you.

You give every airplane you ever fly a nickname, and refer to it as if it were a female.

You're making $190,000 a year but drive a '98 Metro since most of it is going out the door in alimony.

Before throwing away a perfectly flat piece of paper, you have to make a paper airplane out of it and note the L/D and glide ratios at different trim settings.

You've made a small fortune in aviation, but it's only because you started with a large one.

The set of "matched luggage" you take on your long cross-country flights is three grocery sacks from the same Piggly Wiggly.

You wake up in a hospital and when the doctor asks you the last thing you remember, you say "it's all kinda fuzzy after I said 'hey yall watch this'!".

You've bought a label-maker so you can label broken things as "inop" around the house.

When your kids ask what kind of cloud that is, they get a science lesson.

You "fly" your hand out the window when driving.

Your non-aviation friends swear they'll never again sit at the same table as you and at least one other pilot.

You have a friend push your car back instead of using reverse.

You feel nothing when others scream on a roller coaster. You only mutter "sink rate" when you begin to descend on the steep section of the track.

Every year you make a calendar from fbo-hotties.com

You've noticed that all the ships on Star Trek have Nav Lights on them.

When getting married you say "affirmative' instead of " I do".

Instead of bypassing a car, you stay in formation with it.

You set the radio in your car to the proper frequencies before driving anywhere.

You walk inside and someone asks you how cold it is outside and you give them the temperature in celsius.

When referring to travel to another city, going 'up' there only applies when the city is at a higher elevation than yours.

You conduct a fuel drain test after getting gas in your car at a gas station.

When giving directions, you give 270 instead of west.

You get a chick's phone number at the bar and the only thing you have to write on is a weight and balance printout in your back pocket.

You've ever considered buying a scrapped Boeing 737 cockpit to turn into a simulator.

You spend 80% of your money on airplanes & beer ... and consider the other 20% "wasted."

You take your leg off the gas pedal few blocks from home, and check whether you can make it to your drive-way in a 'simulated engine failure' scenario.

Every time you're caught in traffic in a long road-trip, you immediately blurt-out how easy this would have been if you had only flown to your destination.

You actually say 'Cruise control ON' before turning on the cruise control in your car.

You wonder whether S-turns will avoid you from using your brakes when vehicular traffic ahead of you slows down.

If you rearrange the groceries to the best weight and balance for your car's specs.

Your favorite number is 1200.

You give your address using VOR radials and distances.

You have answered your phone with your callsign.

When someone tells you they have Whiskey, you assume they are telling you they have the destination weather information.

You describe the weather in METAR code in casual conversation.

You cause a traffic slowdown passing the airport because you’re scanning for traffic and identifying departing and arriving aircraft.

You perform a flow check when starting your car.

Your personalized license plate is something only another pilot would get (LAHSO, SIMOPS, TU, etc.)

When your watch has more features than your first computer.

You read back your fast food order at the drive-through and end it with your license plate number.

You’ve ever missed an anniversary, the birth of a child, or a spouse’s birthday because the ceiling had finally come up to 1,500 AGL.

You preflight your car.

The first thing you do when getting on a United Airlines flight is tune to channel 9.

You secretly get angry with aviation podcasters because they can't keep up with your need for MORE material.

You plan a romantic trip with your significant other to Dayton but forget to tell him or her about the six-hour detour at the USAF museum.

You’ve ever inadvertently slammed on the brakes in your car because you intended to command left rudder.

You bring taxiway diagrams, enroute charts, and approach plates along as a passenger on a commercial flight so you can follow along.

A burly man with a government haircut and a bulge under his suit jacket has ever moved seats to sit closer to you upon noticing all of your taxiway diagrams, enroute charts, and approach plates.

You have an airline safety demonstration loaded on your car mini-van DVD player or your aircraft MFD so you can play it for your friends.

On the highway on-ramp, you think of yourself as joining Victor whatever and resuming own navigation.

You gauge all your income and expenses in terms of flight hours represented.

You've told everyone you know that the only gift you want for Christmas, birthday, Father's Day, etc. is flight time.

You’ve ever kicked the tires on a static display at Oshkosh.

You've ever walked out of the Kennedy Space Center gift shop with more than $500 in merchandise.

You secretly enjoy telling your boss “roger” instead of “wilco.”

You've missed a pop-fly while playing baseball because you were too busy looking for the plane when you heard an engine overhead.

You've ever watched a depiction of aviation in a mainstream movie and said, “Oh, puhlease!”

You've ever scared the hell out of a floor salesperson at a Garmin store by marching to the big G1000 display thingie in the back and appearing to know what you’re doing with it.

The GPS Velcro-ed to your car dash weighs more than five pounds and contains FBO data.

You do a GUMPS check while turning final. Into the driveway.

If you refer to your car by the make and the last three characters of the license plate.

You have only two expressions for weather. VMC and IMC.

You’ve gotten a flight briefing using the speakerphone in your office hoping that your coworkers would overhear and be impressed.

You’ve ever used the phonetic alphabet while making a restaurant reservation.

You have more than three spare flashlights on your person.

You plan a road trip with a nav log, a plotter, and an E6B.

You’ve ever identified your highway exit and then contemplated which STAR will take you into town.

You've ever tried to slow your car by pulling on the steering wheel.

You pull back on the steering wheel when driving on a dirt road.

You've ever unconsciously started to drive down the road with the yellow line under the middle of your car.

You calculate your car's stopping distance in case of an emergency.

You’ve ever fantasized about the flight crew on your commercial flight “having the fish” so you can charge into the cockpit, take the controls, and save the day.

You “go on the gauges” when you hit a rain squall while driving.

You go to accelerate in the car and reach for the center console.

You wish the compass in your car read 315 instead of NW.

You want an altitude readout in the car's GPS, speed trends, and distance to stop calculated in real time.

You call the local ASOS or AWOS for weather, flying or not.

You use “niner” in everyday speech.

You bring your headset to the showroom when shopping for a new car . . . and leave when there are no phone jacks in the panel.

You complain when the spoiler on the car can't move up and down.

When you go to start the car, you roll down the window and shout “CLEAR!”

You’ve ever been on a rough road and called the state police road-condition hotline to ask for higher.

You have more than three iTunes playlists associated with flight.

You have an MP3 playlist entitled “If They Leave the Keys in the F/A-18 and I Can Find an AUX Audio Input.”

You look at the clock with pride because it says 7:47.

Your favorite radio station is your local airports tower/UNICOM/CTAF freq on your radio scanner.

Your watch and all your clocks are on Zulu time.

When you are on vacation, part of your itinerary is to check out the local airport.

You call up FSS for a weather briefing before a fishing trip.

If your first in-flight emergency of each year occurs on the morning of January 1st.

You instinctively step on the "rudder" when your car spins out over a patch of ice and you realize you just hit the gas pedal instead.

You've given your girlfriend a "remove before flight" t-shirt for Christmas.

You have cancelled an aniversery for some free twin time.

At an Air Show, you critique the pilots on their landings.

Your desktop background picture is taken from one of your own flights.

you see a landing airplane and inside your head you hear ....100 ....50 ...40 ...30 ..20 .10.

You try explaining to a cop that 85 MPH in you car doesn't seem fast, because you normally rotate at that speed.

You have ever almost driven off the road because you were looking at an over-flying aircraft rather than the road in front of you.

You start using the word solo instead of single at the bar.

You detect and say out loud every single little production mistake when watching a movie scene where airplanes are involved.

When you ask someone "do you know what the TAF is like tomorrow?" when you really mean the weather.

You're more afraid of the FAA than crashing the airplane.

You refer to the idiot lights on your cars dashboard as annunciators.

Your GPS in your car displays Knots instead of MPH ... Just because it looks right.

You spend all your time in the cockpit talking about women, and all your time with a woman talking about aircraft.

When you know that "KMDW 281745Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM CLR 15/5 A29.92 RMK AO2" means it's going to be a "perfect" day in Chicago.

You put the "boards" out when your car is over the speed limit.

You wash and polish your car to minimise parasite drag.

You enter the parking lot at a 45 degree angle.

You know the difference between a 737-700 and a 737-800.

You come home from flying, turn on your computer and fly on flight simulator. Even worse, you fly for a virtual airline, and it's the same airline you actually fly for in real life.

You curse drivers on the freeway who don't understand "flow control".

Every date involves a different city and a non-rev pass.

You know what those maglight red disks are for.

You check the wind direction before deciding which way to turn out of your driveway.

You are constantly checking temp and oil pressure instead of the speedometer.

You get ground-sickness.

You spend more days drinking your coffee and reading the newspaper in the flight levels than you do at your house in your pajamas.

You do instrument cross scans while driving.

You think the smell of burning jet fuel would make a GREAT cologne or perfume scent!

You tell someone to check their six instead of turn around.

While driving, you try to maintain the speed limit plus or minus 10 mph, for fear of busting a checkride.

The adrenalin kicks in when you hear anything sounding similar to the stall horn.

You've used expired IFR charts for wrapping paper.

You have a facebook profile pic of you in a cockpit or with a headset on.

You have rippled muscles on your right leg and pitiful ones on your left.

You set two alarms for the day and wake up one minute before either one goes off.

You earn your Private and instantly know more than the engineers that designed your plane.

You wake up at the yoke, wondering where you are.

CAP shows up at your hangar after you put the plane away looking for the "crash".

When driving you find your speed increasing when doing right turns and the clutch seems to come on during left ones.

You actually think that flying a Nemesis NXT is better than sex.

You instinctively let go of the steering wheel after engaging cruise control.

Top Gun is as embarrasing for you as Brokeback Mountain is to cowboys.

When meeting people you automatically start mentally "guesstimating" their weight for weight & balance calculations in case later on they ask you for a ride.

You shout "CLEAR TAB", before opening a can of beer.

Your watch costs more than your first car.

You tell you're friends it's time to pull chocks when you want to leave someplace.

You expound for a full fifteen minutes on Bernoulli's Principle and the function of slats and flaps, as your non-flying friends get that glazed look in
their eyes, sorry they ever asked.

You pretend your parking brake is a collective.

You name your first born child 'David Clark'.

You make the sound of a jet engine spooling up when you put your car into gear.

You call out 'traffic alerts' while driving, noting the other cars make, model, speed, position, and crossing direction relative to yours.

You add "intentionally left blank" to any unused page in a book.

You refer to smoke breaks as 'wind checks'.

You dial 7500 when someone throws you in the trunk and robs your car.

When your significant other asks how far are you, you'd say 5.6 DME inbound.

You call out "driveway in sight" when approaching your home.

You judge the quality of every commercial flight your on based on the landing and can tell what went wrong.

Every time an aircraft accident occurs, the first thing that you think about is the NTSB Report and what it'll say.

You say "check" waaay too much.

Above the toilet in your house there's a sign that says "tail-draggers check to make sure gear is down before landing".

You refer to taking a leak as jettisoning.

You imagine every woman air traffic controller is really hot.

You think "V1" when running yellow lights.

You chock your tires when gassing up at Exxon.

In any conversation, when talking about an airport you use its ICAO code instead of the name of the city.

You have an E6B on your watch even though you know you'll never use it.

You refuse to come within a few hundred yards of a tractor trailer or bus for fear of wake turbulence.

The part of your vacation that you're most excited for is flying to the location.

You keep your FAR/AIM next to your Bible, but there's more dust on the Bible.

You loathe news reporters when they say something stupid about flying while trying to sound knowledgable.

You find that you can't stay in your lane when driving a car because you are keeping your eyes outside and watching for landmarks.

You look at your watch before you get a new drink; You can subtract 8 easier than any other number.

You never buy shampoo, soap, lotion, pens, or scratch paper.

You get food poisoning at least 10 times a year.

You use the fact that you're a pilot as a pickup line.

You've never, ever met another person who likes the movie "Blue Thunder" or "Air America".

You use your E6B to do your taxes.

Your favorite newstand is the terminal garbage can.

You have flown between the buildings of every major city on Microsoft Flight Simulator.

You know what a $100 hamburger is.

You say “forward and aft” instead of “front and back”.

You hate clouds with spiteful passion.

You have an unhealthy obsession with high-speed, low approaches.

You carry pliers in your back pocket in case the dipstick is too tight.

You've landed diagnally across a runway because the crosswind component was over the designed limits.

You routinely check 121.5 MHz after each landing.

You've been in a traffic pattern between 2:00 and 4:00 am.

When you attempt a forward slip in your car and it goes horribly, horribly wrong.

You know what a circadian rhythm is and realize that you don't have one.

Half of the photo albums on your Facebook profile are dedicated to airplanes or airplane-related environments.

When you've caught yourself using "wheels up at......." when asked what time you're leaving on a road trip.

Your headset is in the top three most expensive things you own.

You know what 120 knots minus 50 knots is, but you don't know what 120 minus 50 is.

You make a paper airplane out of your grandma's tissues because it was all you had.

"Cold shrinkage" to you means taking a leak out of an airplane window at 14,000 feet.

You have a pet named after an airplane make or model.

When contemplating dinner plans, you consider everything within a three-state radius, then check the METARs and Prog Charts to narrow your list.

You have more Sporty's Catalogs in the bathroom than Playboys.

You use old Sectional and Low Enroute charts for wallpaper.

You refer to the front and rear wheels of your motorcycle as the nosewheel and tailwheel respectively.

You book your flights according to aircraft type and not travel times.

When you get into your car after flying and think... "How the hell did I ever think this was hard?"

You've used your airline uniform to "dress up" as a pilot for halloween.

You refer to the rear-window defroster on your car as the anti-ice switch.

You ask someone where the lav is, when you really mean restroom.

You cringe everytime u hear someone say 10-4.

You know ground effect is a principle of physics, not extra plastic on the bottom of your car.

You always have an empty wide-necked bottle in your car.

You pre-flight your lawnmower.

Every time you see an airplane, you have to tell someone what kind it is, whether they asked you or not.

You know which AM stations are the good ones.

You refrain from using "CLEAR" at anytime in any conversation to prevent an incident.

You've used a clean air-sick baggie as a bookmark.

You have an emergency and dial 121 5 instead of 911.

You use 'disregard' and 'standby' in normal conversation.

When you play every videogame with the controls 'inverted' cause the default setting is wrong, just wrong...

People avoid bringing up the weather for smalltalk with you anymore.

You realize you are still wearing your airline badge when you go out to eat at a restaurant with friends after work.

The irony is not lost on you when you listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Buddy Holly, John Denver and Stevie Ray Vaughan while flying a fully loaded single-engine airplane alone in instrument meteorological conditions at night over the mountains.

For Glider Pilots:

You wish that spiral staircases would just go on and on and on.

You switch off your car's engine once you are on top of the hill.

You turn tight when you hear a beep beep beep sound.

You love roundabouts but keep craning for all the cars around you.

Wherever you go, you make sure that you have a third waypoint on the way back.

You do it silently.

A Day at the Office

(original post 12-22-2009)

Sometimes I get irked by people who have this idea in their head that pilots work 12 days a month, simply pushing a few buttons while their aircraft flies them around, and then they collect their huge checks in the mail. I decided to actually log a day in my life as a "part 135" cargo pilot in order to quell and/or rectify that myth. Granted, I also work as a ground courier for the same customer I fly for, but that is not uncommon for a hungry cargo pilot to help cover the bills. The following is a log of one of my five days that I work every week.

4:50 am: Alarm sounds. Hit snooze a couple times. 5 hours sleep.

5:00 am: Realize you spent the night at someone else's house so you didn't pack breakfast or lunch the night before. Damnit. Check the weather. Moderate to severe turbulence from the surface to 24,000 ft. Winds aloft 100+ kts. Moderate ice and possible supercooled large droplet threat up from 7,000 to 20,000. Minimum cruising altitude Eastbound over Elkins is 8,000. Wind shear. Destination visibilities forecast to be right at approach minimums. Cloud layers forecast to be right at minimums. But, hey, what's the the point of checking the weather, you're just gonna have to fly anyways right? (tongue pressed against cheek).

5:40 am: Arrive at bank ops center. Count and calculate weight for bank work. Load van with 1500 lbs of bank work.

6:30 am: Arrive at airport. Preflight. Load up work and depart for Martinsburg, WV.

8:30 am: Preceding aircraft declares braking action nil at Martinsburg due to surface icing conditions, legally shutting down the airport to all commercial operators (thats me). Shit. Divert to Winchester Regional Airport in VA. Glide slope is out of service (of course) and weather is legal to shoot the approach but below minimums (cloud layer reported 100 ft). I get to "minimum descent altitude" on the approach with no runway in sight. Shit. Divert again to Manassas Regional Airport in VA. Weather is right at minimums. Shoot the approach and make it to the runway (phew!).

9:20 am: Back and forth on the phone with couriers from Manassas (who were not there but should have been), couriers from Martinsburg, and the bank itself (through airline operations of course). Check the weather every 10 min for Winchester and/or Martinsburg to come up above minimums for two and a half hours.

11:45 am: Weather is finally up. Fly to Winchester to wait for courier. Drop off bank work and pick up a package for Charleston. More back and forth with various people on the phone. Fly back to Manassas for a hefty layover.

1:30 pm: Arrive in Manassas. See an old friend you haven't seen in ages and BS for 30 min. Realize you haven't eaten in 16 hours. Get some shitty fast food. Feel slightly nauseous from crappy food and lack of sleep.

2:30 pm: Try to get a nap but get interrupted by phone calls from a family member, a colleague, air operations, and two couriers.

4:30 pm: First courier shows up. Start loading. Outside air temp drops back below freezing.

6:30 pm: Last courier shows up in Manassas. Finish loading and depart for Martinsburg.

7:15 pm: Arrive Martinsburg. Surface winds gusting 30 knots (35 MPH). Load up more bankwork (2300 lbs at this point). Unscheduled fuel-up for high winds.

7:30 pm: Fly directly into 80 knot headwind. Moderate turbulence and strong mountain wave updrafts and downdrafts the entire flight. Disconnect autopilot to hand fly entire leg. Check weather at Charleston. Surface winds gusting to 40 knots. Aircraft Flight Manual states the C208 should not be flown or taxied at/above 40 knots (not a limitation). Consider alternates. Check pilot reports. Wait for new weather report to come out. Continue to Charleston. Experience wind shear of minus 20 knots to plus 30 knots on two-mile final approach at 300 ft above ground level (scary).

9:15 pm: Unload plane and wait for second courier to finish off-loading. Finish post flight and paperwork.

10:00 pm: Arrive at home residence. Eat a slice of toast and a bowl of cereal for dinner. Check the weather for the following day... pick routes, altitudes, and file flight plans. Fall asleep within 5 minutes of hitting the pillow.

This is what I do every day. If someone out there reads this and can come to a better appreciation for the pilots that fly them and/or their stuff around, I'll have done my job. In my opinion, pilots are some of the safest, most hard-working, professional, dedicated people in the workforce in this great country. So when you see us in the airport, please don't treat us like we're your taxi cab driver. Your taxi cab driver didn't go through years of college, all-consuming training, studying accident analyses, safety meetings, etc.

Fight User Fees for General Aviation

(Original post 8/15/2007)

Everyone seems to have a blog these days: your mom, the UPS delivery driver, and even the kid who always crushes your bread when bagging your grocercies. I am now officially joining the world of bloggers and exposing my accounts, opinions, musings, and rants to this little ball of dirt in outer space. I am starting this blog so I can recollect my thoughts; and because I like to write. This being my first blog entry, I thought I might write about something important.

The Bush Administration has taken the position that a “new funding mechanism” is needed that “ties revenues to costs and allows us to manage FAA more efficiently.” As a result, the Administration has proposed radical changes in the way FAA is both funded and controlled in its budget reauthorization proposal presented to Congress in February 2007. This proposal includes the implementation of a user-fee funding mechanism, significantly (four-fold) higher fuel taxes for general aviation, and a dramatic reduction of the general fund contribution (from all taxpayers) to fund FAA operations. Such a method would effectively shift the financial burden of the national airspace system to the direct users of the system, ignoring the value of air transportation to the nation’s economy as a whole. - EAA.org

If the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007 is voted to include user fees for our National Airspace System, we are all in for a lose/lose situation. User fees have proven time and again to be expensive, inefficient, and damaging to general aviation in every country in which they have been introduced. User fees were implemented in Australia and GA decreased 28% in only 4 years and will likely decline further.

When I was 17 years old I had saved up enough money to pay for my own pilot's license working a close-to-minimum-wage job. I have seen the aircraft rental rates go up from $38/hour to $95/hour in the last seven years since I started flying - much faster than inflation. If user fees are introduced into general aviation, I can't imagine what would happen to our flight training industry. It's getting less and less affordable to fly even without user fees.

After several years of hemorrhaging money, some airlines are currently reporting profitability. Their status is inherently unstable, however, due to failed business models, runaway costs, and cut-throat competition. All of them are looking for every means possible to reduce costs and shed debt through labor negotiations and restructuring. In all but one case, the “legacy” air carriers chose to declare bankruptcy to help achieve these ends. Now they are turning to the government and other users of the national airspace system to further offload their expenses. The airlines want to do this by shifting a substantial portion of the cost of funding the FAA and the national airspace system onto general aviation - some estimates ranging as high as $2 billion annually. At the same time, they seek control over the air traffic system and airspace access they covet as their own.
So what exactly would happen if user fees were implemented? Lets ask EAA:
1) The freedom of access to the nation’s airspace would forever disappear under a user fee system.
2) The permanence and stability of the national airspace system would be compromised by constantly shifting priorities, ever-increasing fees, reduced flexibility, and economic disincentives to make use of this resource.
3) The general aviation industry as a whole would be damaged not just for personal and recreational flyers but for commercial applications, flight training, disaster relief, medical transport, agricultural aerial applications, police, fire and rescue operations, business travel, weather and traffic reporting. The list is endless.
4) Many communities would lose their access to air transportation because only general aviation serves local airports. The U.S. has approximately 5,400 public use airports and more than 17,000 landing facilities nationwide. The air carriers only serve around 500 of these airports with by far the vast majority of flights concentrated at the 28 most congested hub airports. General aviation serves them all.
5) The entire U.S. economy would suffer with the attendant loss of jobs in aircraft manufacturing, maintenance, and service; flight training; business and tourism travel; and all other fields related to the support of, or benefited by, general aviation.
6) General aviation is the foundation on which the entire aviation industry is based and is unique in the world. A contraction of GA would also mean a contraction of the entire U.S. aerospace industry. General aviation alone accounts for an annual economic impact on the U.S. economy of more than $11 billion and employs more then 1.3 million workers. In her January 2007 speech to the Aero Club of Washington, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said the aviation industry in total contributes $640 billion in economic impact in this country, or 5.4 percent of U.S. GDP, accounting for over 9 million jobs. That represents our largest single trade surplus.
7) Complexity of personal flying would increase dramatically with the implementation of a fee-for-service process of billing, collection, and enforcement. Just think of the bureaucracy of the IRS that has been implemented for identifying and collecting taxes!
8) Fees would likely be assessed for all manner of services with no cost control oversight, giving the FAA license to arbitrarily raise the fees to cover “expenses” which today cannot even be accurately identified and accounted for. Some examples of the types of fees that have been imposed in other countries include:
a. Weather Briefings Fees
b. Flight Planning and Filing Fees
c. Landing Fees
d. Security Fees
e. Other Airport Service Fees
f. Written Test Exam Fees
g. Airman Certificate Issuance and Renewal Fees
h. Aircraft Airworthiness/Modification Approval Fees
i. Potentially any contact with the civil aviation agency
A combination of these fees can run anywhere from $10-$50 minimum for a basic local flight to well over $300 for a long cross country flight using a live weather briefing, flight plan, flight following, and landing fee.
9) In some countries where a user fee-based revenue collection system has been implemented, some of these fees are mandatory whether you want to use the services or not.
10) The cost associated with flying under a user fee system creates a significant disincentive for pilots to use the safety enhancing services of weather briefings, flight planning, flight following, and in-flight FSS weather updates creating the potential for a net reduction in safety.
11) A user fee system costs a lot to operate because of the infrastructure and bureaucracy necessary to track and collect the fees. This would cost every U.S. taxpayer more money. The present system of excise taxes is paid directly to the government by fuel refiners in the case of fuel taxes and the airlines in the case of ticket taxes. This means that today the government collects very large sums of money from a relative handful of sources. User fees would require the government to collect very small sums of money repeatedly from literally hundreds of thousands of sources.
I have already written a letter to Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, Texas state Senators of the 110th Congress. I encourage anyone who agrees with me to take a stance and let them know how you feel. Even a simple web submission or email to them will help. Here are the websites for the Senate and House. If you would like to read my letter as a sample for your own, I put it in the filebin HERE.