New York Tries To Raise Flying Age

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EAA is rallying its New York members to battle a proposed law that would raise the minimum age for piloting an airplane in that state to 17 ... and quite possibly complicate long cross-country flights for younger students from bordering states. Four Republican State Assembly members have introduced the bill, ostensibly to prevent an incident similar to one in Tampa, Fla., in 2001 in which a 15-year-old student pilot stole an aircraft and crashed it into a building. EAA says it's one more example of a state trying to venture into federal jurisdiction. Earl Lawrence, EAA's government expert, said regulating pilots is clearly the FAA's responsibility and the law would be toothless. "What the 15-year-old in Florida did is already illegal under the existing federal regulations," Lawrence said. "The passage of a state law will not change or reduce the chance that another 15-year-old will steal an aircraft." The law would prevent 16-year-olds from obtaining their student pilot certificates and it would also ban 15-year-olds from getting their glider certificates. Young pilots under 17 from other states would presumably also be banned from flying in New York. Lawrence said the FAA and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are already taking steps to prevent aircraft theft by anyone, regardless of age. Members are encouraged to write bill sponsors Bob Barra (14th district) Tom Alfano (21st district), Tom Kirwan (100th district) and David Townsend (115th district) to register their complaints.