Never let the facts get in the way of a good story! And as is often the case, there is some truth, however small, buried therein. But instead of getting a balanced view, too often we get what the TV producer wants the slant to be…especially during sweeps week when stations do their best to tantalize potential viewers with the most dramatic and outrageous stuff. Could there be some financial incentive here? Nah!
In this case there’s an unusual twist: a local pilot complained that the small grass-strip airport where he operates is getting too much money from the state. And perhaps it’s true. Here’s the link—you be the judge.
Back story: AOPA Media Relations attempted to explain how the system works, that GA pays fuel taxes, and that they are a part of the national transportation system. There is a system, albeit imperfect at times, that distributes the money. The local pilot might be exactly right, but it seems like going to the local TV station might not be the best way to manage this.
The reporter made a big deal about the Wisconsin Department of Aeronautics failing to respond to questions posed by the “news” station. Guess what? The station did not respond to AOPA’s timely offer to explain things in more detail before the newscast. Hypocrisy in the media? I am shocked!
The TV report drew an instant response from AOPA members. In fact some objected to the piece both on the AOPA’s Facebook page and the WTMJ’s website. They also emailed the station’s general manager. It is impressive how forceful our collective membership can be.
An opinion: There is too much “pork” in the system driven by local politics, airport managers, and engineering consultants who all feed at the trough. This applies to big and small airports, highways, various legislative bills— pretty much all things financial where there’s an opportunity for someone to make a buck.
Fact: Some small GA airports are over-improved. Some have control towers despite low traffic count. Ditto TRACONS. But when fiscal responsibility begins to creep into the conversation, someone plays the safety card even though in most cases the risk is minimal. Balance and common sense invariably get left in the financial orgy that often follows. Big airports often get the lion’s share of funding, as they should, although they get overfed as well.
Palmyra airport looks like a perfect place to introduce people to aviation, but this may have the opposite effect. What do you think and how might this have been handled differently?
“When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.” Mark Twain.