The battle against user fees is just beginning, but we’ve been fighting a battle for generations against politicians and developers who see our airports as nothing more than playgrounds for rich “fat cats” — and as potential gold mines for themselves.
As housing developments replace runways, everyone involved in GA must get involved to ensure that not only their home airports, but airports across the country, are saved.
In this issue, we present a variety of stories documenting the battlefields, such as Duluth, Minn., where it’s Sky Harbor Airport vs. old-growth forests. Which will be left standing once the dust clears?
But it’s not all bad news. We also shine the spotlight on Chicago’s DuPage Airport, which not only is here to stay, but growing. All airport operators can learn a lesson from the experiences at DPA.
And it is possible to fight developers: Just ask the folks at Centennial Airport in Colorado. As pilots and alphabet groups began to arm themselves for battle with a developer, they found unlikely allies, including city and county officials, as well as area homeowners associations.
As we all know, getting the community interested — and involved — in your airport is essential to its success. That’s just what they are doing at Santa Monica Airport in Southern California, where they’ve created a showplace and studio for artists in the airport’s 1940s-era hangars. Besides a community Art Walk, the airport also hosts bi-monthly antique fairs, New Year’s Eve celebrations and even twice-a-year Barney’s warehouse sales. All these events help local residents see “that positive things come from the airport,” according to the SMO’s Deena Mecham.
There are lessons to be learned from every story, which can be used to save airports from developers, the environment, misguided politicians or a public that just doesn’t understand how important GA airports are to communities across the nation.