Secret Private Plane Rides Cost Taxpayers

Saturday, April 10, 2010
Gloria and Kenneth Copeland

Thanks to a business air-travel trade group, politicians, CEOs and even televangelists have been able to fly around the U.S. and the world without having to make their flight information available to the American public. But after a lengthy legal battle, ProPublica managed to gain access to records from Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) Program, maintained by the National Business Aviation Association in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration, which has long insisted on secrecy for private jet flights to protect business deals and the security of executives. However, on February 26, federal district judge Rosemary Collyer ruled that because the records of these flights are funded by taxpayers, the public has the right to know their details.

The media investigation pointed out that Congress has questioned televangelist Kenneth Copeland about his tax-exempt trips to Maui and the Fiji Islands. During a 2007 inquiry initiated by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Copeland’s church claimed that the trip to Fiji was for preaching, while flights to Hawaii were to allow pilots to rest. Kenneth Copeland Airport is located in Tarrant County, Texas, northwest of Fort Worth.
South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds has been scrutinized for his use of state planes for political and personal trips, coaches and boosters for the University of Alabama and the University of Mississippi have blocked flight details to hide coaching searches and recruiting trips, and the CEO of Hooters has kept his flights secret in order to conduct surprise checks on his restaurants.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Off the Radar: Private Planes Hidden From Public View (by Michael Grabell and Sebastian Jones, ProPublica)
High Flyers: How Private Jet Travel Is Straining the System, Warming the Planet, and Costing You Money (by Collins, Anderson, Muhammad, Bollier and Weissman, Institute for Policy Studies and Essential Action) (pdf)
Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) Program (National Business Aviation Association)


Caroline 13 years ago
I love this article!
Private Jet 13 years ago
The private jet is one the most commonly used aviation by the politicians and the VIP's they want to travel with luxury and on their own time schedule.

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