...And The American Way...

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When the world's richest celebrities and industrialists arrive at the single runway of Friedman Memorial Airport in Sun Valley, Idaho, tomorrow for their annual luxury-recreation-and-dealmaking retreat -- Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, etc., are expected -- their Gulfstreams and Citations will have to wait their turn right along with the local Huskies and Bonanzas. The FAA had OK'd a request from the airport to allow only IFR flights in during the busiest part of the weekend -- with the clear intent to give priority to the visiting corporate aircraft and exclude the scruffy single-engine fliers. AOPA protested to the FAA, and the exemption was rescinded. "We felt this would be discriminating against a class of pilots, which is against FAA regulations," AOPA spokeswoman Kathleen Roy told The Associated Press. Airport Manager Rick Baird took issue with AOPA's interference. He told the AP only a handful of charter pilots had protested the change. "This isn't about the little guy, it's about the guy who's hired to fly someone from Las Vegas to Sun Valley on short notice and who wanted to make sure he still got a paycheck." Remember that old proposition about "All men are created equal"? Well, today we might adjust that to "all men and women," but this Independence Day, we can also add, "and all pilots, too."