General Aviation Airports Are Community Assets

The confusion regarding an airport’s mission is one shared by most general aviation airports. Most airport sponsors (city or county) as well as the non-flying community have little appreciation, and perceive that airports are simply parking lots for airplanes. Those of us in aviation know that just isn’t true.

When treated as a business entity, versus a parking lot and/or playground for the supposed rich, our airports can, and have become regional economic engines. That of course, means, reasonable services are required.

It is not really different than one would expect when stopping at a gas station on the interstate. When we stop on the interstate what do we look for? The best option for fuel, food, services etc. Are airports any different when planning flights and travel?

Airports are an important part of the state’s transportation infrastructure as well as emergency hubs, used for medical as well as firefighting capabilities. The fact is that aviation transport is preferred to expedite treatment critically injured community members, especially in rural areas.

South Lake Tahoe faced an identity issue, over the past several years, where the airport sponsor (City Council) was less than enthusiastic about their airport. That is, until a major fire was raging out of control and firefighting aircraft were brought in saving the community.

The South Lake Tahoe Airport sponsor, the City Council as well as the rest of the community, now understand the importance of the airport, and fund it appropriately.

Many airports are fighting to provide the very services we are discussing here. Fuel is another issue that they face.

The term “jet fuel” is really a misnomer. It enlists visions of Southwest Jets lined up to land as well as noisy business jets disturbing the community. Don’t laugh that argument has been used – no, I am not making it up.

The facts are that many single engine aircraft now require kerosene and are much quieter than previous generations of aircraft. That also applies to most new series business jets.

Like anyone else, pilots that do require kerosene will simply move on to the next more service orientated facility which will thankfully accept the revenue. By the way, that can also mean less tourist revenue too.

The aviation community has a long way to go to educate airport sponsors, our politicians (read about the threat to ALUC’s in this web site), as well as the surrounding community. As the economy picks up so will aviation and the issues we face. Do your part to educate your airport sponsor, politicians, and the surrounding community. The airports need your help.

Editor’s Note: This is an editorial from the CalPilots 2012 May/June newsletter

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