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Correction: Budget Battle-Air Shows story

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 1, 2013 at 1:33 pm •  Published: August 1, 2013

MILWAUKEE (AP) — In a July 27 story about air shows, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, voted in favor of legislation authorizing automatic federal budget cuts that took effect this spring. He voted against it.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Wis. air show leads fight against federal fees

Air shows reeling from federal budget cuts watch air traffic control fee fight in Wisconsin


Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — One of the nation's largest air shows begins Monday in Wisconsin, and for the first time, the federal government is charging it an air traffic control fee that amounts to about $45 for each of the 10,000 planes flying in.

The fee has angered pilots, who already pay for air traffic control through a fuel tax, and aviation enthusiasts, who say air shows have been disproportionately hurt by the automatic federal budget cuts that went into effect earlier this spring.

AirVenture, which draws hundreds of thousands of people each year, has not paid for air traffic control before. The event is a fundraiser for the nonprofit Experimental Aircraft Association, which paid the $447,000 fee to the Federal Aviation Administration but has petitioned for a refund in federal court. Air show organizers nationwide are watching the fight under the assumption that if EAA loses, they too could soon be asked to pay.

"It will be another blow to an industry that can't sustain that kind of problem right now," said John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows, which represents hundreds of events.

Dozens of air shows were canceled earlier this year after the military grounded its jet and demonstration teams because of the budget cuts. The teams draw big crowds, and organizers of some shows felt they wouldn't be able to bring in enough people without them. Some shows that did go on, such as the Vectren Dayton Air Show in Ohio, saw attendance drop two-thirds or more.

AirVenture is among a handful of air shows being charged this year for air traffic control. Most include fly-ins, in which pilots arrive in their own planes, and have heavier air traffic than shows where people come by car or public transportation. A small fly-in could involve 100 or so pilots gathering at an airport for a pancake breakfast. Large ones, like AirVenture, involve thousands of planes coming and going over a week.

The FAA plans to provide 87 air traffic controllers and supervisors for AirVenture. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said the automatic federal budget cuts forced it to seek payment for the cost. The agency said previously it had to cut $384 million from its budget by Sept. 30.

John Leenhouts, president and CEO of Sun 'n Fun Inc. in Lakeland, Fla., said it received notice about three weeks before its April event that it would have to pay more than $200,000 for air traffic control services. By that time, Sun 'n Fun and its partner organizations — including aircraft, engine and aviation equipment manufacturers — had invested about $4 million in the event.

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