I wanted to report on our flight of May 4th to Santa Ynez. The primary reason of the trip was to attend a presentation of three scholarships by the Santa Ynez Airport Authority to some tremendously qualified high school students. The scholarships are for a full private license (from ground school to medical to check ride). Thus far, the authority has over $20,000 invested. I want to address two very interesting parts of the visit:
1) The students – You would not believe the quality of these young people. Examples of their qualifications – Student Body President, Sport MVP/Captain, National Merit Scholars (all carry over a 4.0), Eagle Scout, Church Missionary and Sunday School Instructor, on and on. The young lady who won this year?s award is ranked number 7 in the class. Also, this school has trhee students accepted to the Air Force Academy next fall (out of 1250 nationally). On top of this, they are all or soon will be licensed pilots. They received written certificates from the State Senator, Congressman, and Mayor at this ceremony (there are others planned).
2) The airport authority. The airport is owned by the county, but run by the authority, which is a 501(c)(3). They have a $1 million grant coming for ramp and taxiway rehabilitation and are working on an extension to the runway (2,804 ft. currently). I spent some time talking to Willy, the chair of the authority. The most interesting aspect is: 1) he was a county supervisor, 2) he is not a pilot and most important, 3) he refers to himself as ‘part of the family.’ He is making extraordinary efforts to undo some of the rules he passed when he was a supervisor. For example, he now understands that runway length doesn’t necessarily mean larger aircraft, but it does increase safety and can be used to keep noise away from houses and on the airport. He also talked about FAA advising that pilots don’t land on displaced thresholds and that the incentive to fly safely comes through the insurance companies. He said the first year of the authority was difficult, at best, but the common theme is that the community realizes the importance of the airport economically and otherwise (while we were there, several helicopters were working a fire nearby and a mobile mixing plant was being set up to provide fire retardant).
In closing, this is an airport, which will thrive and live on (not to mention provide discounted fuel) for many years to come. The community recognizes the importance of having an airport and the authority works hard to be both a good neighbor and a friend to the city. Most importantly, they have people involved who know what’s right and are working hard to undo what was done wrong in the past.
California Pilots Association
California Pilots Association Senior VP Doug Rice talks to high school senior Amy Moore about her future
Editor’s Note: Please see the article “For The Love Of Flight, Santa Ynez Airport” for more information on this great success story.