PITTSTOWN, N.J. — “Effective Outreach: Preserving General Aviation by Putting the ‘Public’ in Public-Use Airports” is a recently released paper from Up, Up, and Away.
Written by SAFE members Linda Castner and Rich Stowell, the paper discusses 17 years of experimentation and research exploring non-traditional uses and alternative revenue streams for airports and their businesses.
Lessons learned from successful and unsuccessful programs are presented, and barriers to change are identified. An 11-1/2-minute companion video has been produced as well.
“As the recent issues surrounding Santa Monica Airport highlight, airport preservation must be proactive and must use proven methods of outreach,” says Castner. “Historically, airport closures mostly have been unrelated to the numbers of active pilots, hours flown, and active general aviation aircraft. So, relying on more pilots as the way to improve general aviation will not reduce the risks facing our public-use airports.”
Both Master Instructors, the paper’s authors have been heavily involved in general aviation for decades.
Castner grew up on her family’s public-use airport, Alexandria Airfield, and has co-owned and operated it since 1993. She has developed and tested numerous outreach programs for children all the way up to corporate professionals.
An author and speaker, Stowell has provided more than 9,000 hours of flight instruction across the U.S. He is a recognized expert on loss of control in general aviation aircraft.
The central thesis is that by increasing the social value of general aviation airports with effective outreach and high-quality, aviation-themed STEM education, airports can be positioned as valued community assets.
Functional fixedness, however, may be preventing aviation stakeholders from seeing airports as more than merely places to train pilots and sell fuel, the two note.