Community Events Make Airport Good Neighbor Pt.1

March 9th, 2014 by Jolie Lucas

On Valentine’s Day I was happy to read that a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit brought about by the city of Santa Monica to take control of the airport with a goal of closing it and developing the land for other purposes. While this is happy news, it is also a temporary reprieve from the vocal minority of residents who oppose Santa Monica airport and who must be completely uneducated about its value in our national network of General Aviation airports.   As a psychotherapist for 25 years, I believe I have come to understand the psychology of life.  In my experience there are three kinds of people:
• Those who watch their life happen;
• Those who make their life happen;
• And those who wonder, “How does life happen?”

When it comes to General Aviation and the promotion of G.A. airports, we need to be firmly in the “make it happen” camp. Hopefully this blog will help inspire you to bring the fun back to your airport and illuminate to your community that airports indeed make good neighbors.

Positive aspect of promotion, inspiring the love of flight
Let’s bring the fun back to the airport. What are your earliest memories of aviation? Perhaps your Dad took you to the airport so you could watch airplanes take off and land. Remember your first flight? How can you make those memories for someone else?  Aviation is magical, yet we know the science behind the magic.  Inspiring the love of flight means going back to the magic and sharing it with others. You don’t have to focus solely on children. At our Mooney Ambassador events we meet adults who have always wanted to fly, and with encouragement, might take the first step.  Your enthusiasm is contagious.

Friends of Oceano Airport Toys for Tots

Friends of Oceano Airport, Toys for Tots

Community outreach a.k.a. fun ways we can get folks out to your airport:

•    Airport Day:  Does your local airport have a Celebration Day, Airport Day or Open House?  Have you thought about helping to volunteer versus just attending?  If there is no event, why not look into having a “Good Neighbor Day” or Airport Day?  Perhaps your airport used to have an event, but not now?  Have a small event to start with. AOPA publishes a wonderful guide to hosting an open house. In the photo below, we brought an inflatable kiddie swimming to a hot summer event, and our airplane display was the most popular by far!

•    Toys for Tots:  A lovely way to bring the community to your airport is to have a Toys for Tots event.  Contact your local T4T/Marine Corps representative and talk with them about the idea.  Folks can drive in, walk in or fly in bringing new unwrapped toys. Due to increased need for programs like Toys for Tots, toys and dollars donated helps local kids directly.
•    Fly-In Movie Night
Fly-in, walk-in, drive in, it doesn’t matter!  If you have a hangar, campground or open area you can host a Fly-In movie night, you can make a theater!  I suggest the event be free of charge.  Offer hot dogs, beverages, popcorn, and s’mores on a donation basis.  Show a family-friendly movie that has an aviation theme.

Make airport events fun

Make airport events fun!

Check back next month for the final installment.  Until then, be on the look out for an excuse to have an event at your airport. Remember everyone loves a good party.

Jolie Lucas

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and co-founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. She is one of the directors and executive producers of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney. She created #MooneyGirls blog to inspire women to become pilots and females to become aircraft owners.

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The opinions expressed by the bloggers do not reflect AOPA’s position on any topic.

  • E Livingston

    We have an annual Fly-In breakfast at our County Airport (I22 Randolph County Airport) every June and decided we wanted to do something in December also. We came up with an Idea we call “Lights & Flights”. The next town to the east of the airport (Union City) does a Christmas display of millions of lights in the city park. We decided to offer night time airplane rides over the Christmas display and to show case our airports new runway and let the public see the first airport in the Country to install medium intensity LED runway lights. We had a not for profit called PAWS (Pets are Worth Saving) set up in the main hangar and serve soup and sandwiches for a fund raiser and we donated all the profit from the airplane rides to them also. Needless to say, it was a huge hit. We gave over 200 people airplane rides. There were so many people that we had to extend it another night so everyone that wanted a ride could get one. So with just a little imagination anyone can do something positive at their local airport to get people out there and have a little fun and promote the airport in a positive light.

    E. Livingston

    • Jolie Lucas

      What a wonderful idea! When we get creative we do double-benefit. We have fun at the airport and get our community out to the airport. Way to go!

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