Small General Aviation Airports and their Importance

I’ll keep this one brief.

Recently an article appeared on the front page of USA Today – Thursday, September 17th: Feds keep little-used airports in business.

Bad form all around. An article appeared in this paper many months ago regarding airport impact fees and how GA (general aviation) doesn’t shoulder its fair share.

Before anyone decides to assume the lynch-mob mentality, please consider this: Smaller airports serve many. They are departure and arrival points for a wide range of smaller international carriers, they manage the carefully choreographed ballet of small aircraft (and by small I include the entire range up to commuter jets) they provide several thousand jobs, and offer points of interest and education for those looking to get their pilot’s license among others.

But small airports also serve as centralized launching points in times of crisis and disaster. Many of these provide an invaluable service as a command center to mobilize support and aid. They also serve as centralized locations to mobilize to another location en-masse.

It’s critical that people understand there is more than meets the eye in almost any endeavor.  In general aviation we often hear about the waste of tax dollars on Citation jets as politicians jump around the country, or the corporate marauders who abuse such perks with indescretion and obscene inconsideration.

Little do we hear of Doctors Without Borders, many of whom are pilots who travel south of the border on their dime to assiste the less fortunate, or the wide reaching network of Angel Flight, where pilots offer to fly the critically ill and sick  – most often children – across state and country to get the medical treatment they need, or the outreach network of PilotsNPaws, a dedicated group of volunteer pilots who travel the country in their free time finding homes for rescued animals.

The next time we read or report on something, let’s take enough time to understand all points of the topic, because by doing so we stay on point, and understand better the world around us.  It is sometimes difficult to resist the temptation to nod and agree, especially if it’s something we either do not understand or don’t fully appreciate or agree with, but a little acquired knowledge applied goes a long way.


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