I am a Canadian, and I've been a member of AOPA for 10 years. I have, from time to time, flown through parts of the United States, in private airplanes. I've met wonderful people everywhere, and seen wonderful things.
I've flown over the New Mexico desert, crossed the mountains, I've stopped in towns large and small. I've visited air shows, museums, casinos, natural wonders, and I've seen too many things to really remember without going through all of the photos and notes.
I won't be doing that anymore I guess. After reading the pages of the legal mumbo jumbo that is being forced on folks like me, just for the privilege of crossing the border from Canada to the U.S., I have decided that I probably don't need to come to your country anymore.
If you don't know what I'm speaking of, just have a look at the eAPIS system registration. You can find it at https://eapis.cbp.dhs.gov/
I'm a simple sort of man and I'm not sure when it became law that everyone must always have access to a computer, but I've found a way to avoid it.
To whatever government agency or agencies that are responsible for this frightening, confusing piece of legislation, here is my message:
Don't worry about me darkening your border with the shadow of my airplane. I don't need to come and visit your country that badly. I'll keep all of the money that I planned on spending in your country, and I'll spend it in my own. Heck, I may even spark up my old 1960 310D and fly it to Iceland or Europe or somewhere that is still satisfied with a simple phone call ahead to the customs office.
I'm not going to play the game that the U.S. government wants me to play.
I'm sure that eAPIS is 'childs play' to the people who invented it, but I like going to little grass fields in rural communities, and I'm apt to be there in my 1943 Stearman. There might not be a telephone, let alone a computer. I don't carry one of these 'Crackberry' things that are most likely used by the people who created this eAPIS thing.
Flying a private airplane doesn't make me a criminal. Why do you feel that you should treat me so much differently than a person driving a car across the border?
I'll miss the experiences of visiting your country, but I guess I'll find other experiences to make up for it.
I'll miss the magazine from AOPA too, because there won't be much point in keeping up my membership.
I'll miss all of the nice, pleasant, rational American people, who have treated me so well, and made me feel so welcome up until now.
I hope that one day, people like myself will feel welcome again in your country.
St. Catharines, Ont.
Ed. Although I understand your decision and I expect others will also stop considering travel to the U.S., I would just like to say that if everyone does the same, the terrorists will have won, without having to lift a finger. I will continue to cross the border, even with the punishing eAPIS procedures, and I encourage others to do the same. COPA will continue to work with our counterparts in the U.S. to modify the procedures to provide a more realistic measure of security for our sector of aviation.