The Plane Truth

Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I try to understand other people’s point of view..I really do.
But this latest attempt at creating an uproar over the state’s 2 million dollar purchase of an 8 year old airplane to replace a 29 year old airplane really has me scratching my increasingly grey-haired head.
 
Many, including a political poster on this very website are saying there goes “flyin’ Mike Rounds again..adding to his personal air force..in secret..not even telling every member of the legislature.”
Oh, yeah…don’t forget the line that never fails to get people all riled up, AT TAXPAYER’S EXPENSE.
 
Huh?
Come on, really?
 
The state aeronautics commission, I believe, unanimously agreed that the old plane, built when Jimmy Carter was president, was a bit risky for passenger service any longer.
They okayed the deal, using money from the 6 million in the aeronautics fund.
From what I understand, money for that fund comes from airplane fuel taxes, airplane registration fees and airplane dealer licenses. It seems a bit of a stretch to say it came right out of taxpayer’s pockets unless you fly..own..or sell planes.
So, let’s see, the money was there….that’s what it is supposed to be used for…and that’s what a used King Air costs.
I’m all for open government but does every legislator have to be informed about every state purchase over a certain amount of money? If so, how do you take a vote? Call a lot of special sessions?
 “Ah..yeah, Senator, we’re going to need you in Pierre to vote on buying a dozen new highway patrol cars..”
Try that one at harvest time.
I do recall the governor once saying he’d like to see the state’s fleet of airplanes upgraded.. I thought, well he IS a pilot and is rightly concerned about safety.
The idea that he just wanted some different..newer..bigger..toys to fly around in never occurred to me.
What “did” occur to both Linda and me this week after reading about the “secret” airplane purchase..was what short memories we seem to have.
 
How can we ever forget that dreary April day in 1993 when word was received that the state airplane carrying Governor George Mickelson and 7 others had crashed in Iowa killing all aboard?
A faulty hub caused a propeller blade to come off in flight sending the Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 out of control and into a concrete farm silo.
After that, how can anyone in South Dakota not want the governor to have the best and safest airplane possible?
I’d be asking that same question even if Jack Billion had beaten Mike Rounds in last year’s election.

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