Famed Military Aviators Join Growing Chorus of Opposition to H.R. 2997

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, dhubbard@nbaa.org

Washington, DC, Sept. 15, 2017 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) welcomes six legendary military heroes who are among the latest voices to oppose H.R. 2997, a bill before Congress that includes language to privatize the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system.

The six acclaimed aviators – former team commanders with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels aerial demonstration teams – are featured in a recent video forcefully expressing opposition to ATC privatization, and encouraging American citizens to speak out against this controversial legislation.

The video was released by the International Council of Airshows (ICAS), one of more than 150 aviation groups standing unified against H.R. 2997. It features commentary about the controversial legislation from former Blue Angels commanders Greg McWherter, Steve Foley and George Dom, along with Thunderbirds team leaders Brian Bishop, Richard McSpadden and Ron Mum, urging citizens to contact their elected representatives in Congress and urge them to vote against H.R. 2997.

“We know firsthand that the air traffic control system in our country is the safest, the largest, the most diverse and most efficient in the world,” Foley noted in the video. “This legislation will not reduce the vast majority of delays caused by bad weather and the airlines themselves,” Dom added, with McWherter stating that the bill would, “add billions to our nation’s budget deficit, negatively impact our national security and needlessly complicate border protection.” Watch the video, “Former Blue Angels, Thunderbirds Oppose ATC Privatization.”

The demonstration team members are the latest legendary aviation and aerospace figures to speak out against ATC privatization. Earlier this month, ICAS posted on its website a separate video featuring former astronauts Thomas Stafford, Jim Lovell, Robert “Hoot” Gibson and Ken Cockrell explaining the risks inherent in handing ATC management over to a private board, dominated by the big airlines and their allies, and unaccountable to Congress.

“We know better than most that our national airspace is precious and that our freedom to use it now hangs by a thin thread,” explained Stafford, a four-time spacefarer in NASA’s Gemini and Apollo programs. Gibson, a five-time Space Shuttle astronaut, cautioned that “legislation…to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system would damage this country.” Watch the video, “Astronauts Oppose H.R.2997.”

These voices join Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who made a heroic emergency landing of a US Airways airliner in the Hudson River in 2009. In a TV ad, he asked, “Why in the world would we give the keys to the kingdom to the largest airlines? Because they definitely have their own agenda – to lower their costs.” View the ad featuring Capt. Sullenberger.

“These American heroes have put country and others ahead of themselves, and they are the best of the best in the flying world,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “They are among the most knowledgeable Americans about aviation, and we thank them for lending their expertise to this important debate, and for stating their strong opposition to this legislation to privatize ATC.”

Other groups that have raised concerns about ATC privatization include more than 100 U.S. mayors, more than 100 business leaders, consumer groups, think tanks on the political left and right, consumer groups, congressional watchdog organizations and members of Congress from both political parties.