Friendly Airports in the Central Southwest Region

Looking for an airport to grab a $100 hamburger? Want to visit an aviation museum? How about camping by your airplane? Just simply want to visit an airport to watch airplanes take off and land? We may consider these “friendly airports” and I have started to compile a list of them within our Central Southwest Region (NM, TX, LA, OK, AR, KS, MO, NE, and IA).

List of friendly airports in the Central Southwest Region

Note: The information above is only as good as the sources provided. Please confirm before using.

You can always find more information for fly-in restaurant locations on “The $100 Hamburger” book and website:

For more on-airport camping or nearby camping facilities, you might find the American Air Campers Association helpful:

Additional feature destinations, weekend getaways, romantic getaways, and escapes can be found at:

I want to thank the state aviation offices in the nine states for their help identifying some of these airports. However, please send me any suggestions and/or items that should be added to this list… an airport close to you or one that you have visited that provides access for both the flying community and surrounding community by way of picnic tables, a viewing area, a seating area, a restaurant, a park, etc as a way to show to the community the value of the airport, the types of operations that go on, spark kids’ interest in aviation, and so on. The more robust the list is, the better.

Still need or want more reasons to fly and visit different community airports? Read to learn about incentive programs to encourage pilots to explore different airports around them while getting prizes.

Now go out and fly! Enjoy your community airports!!

Michigan Aviation Industry Joins Forces To Educate Teachers

Early on a Saturday Morning at Capital Region Airport in Lansing, Michigan, aviation advocates, including yours truly, of all types gathered with one goal: help bring general aviation into Michigan classrooms.

Stem in Flight, sponsored by the Michigan Aeronautics Commission General Aviation Committee, GrandAir Aviation, Western Michigan University, Square One Education Network and supported by AOPA, illustrated the many ways a general aviation aircraft, general flight principles, and other aspects of aviation can be brought into the classroom to ignite students’ interest in the many careers that can losely fit under the term of ‘aviation related’.STEM in flight

During the day, more than 75 local educators explored the world of remote control flight, toured the airport’s control tower, climbed into the cockpit of an L-39 and a T-6, explored the turbines of a King Air B200, took flights in a Cirrus SR22 or a Cessna 172, learned about Michigan’s burgeoning aerospace industry, were introduced to EAA Chapter 55 from Mason, MI, and got behind the controls of an AOPA JAY Flight Simulator.

By the day’s end, educators were armed with the knowledge needed to bring general aviation directly into their classrooms to support STEM principles. For other educators, thoughts turned beyond simplying bring general aviation into the classroom, but rather towards bringing students to the aviation by visiting their local general aviation airport — a goal all of us interested in the future of general aviation can admire!

Flying Vacation to the Florida Keys

Have you ever taken a long cross country (say, a two or more leg cross country trip)? Maybe to go to Oshkosh or on a business trip? What about taking a flying vacation? If you have not, I encourage you to. I’ll share a trip my husband and I just came back from. As I mentioned in at least one other blog entry, my husband and I enjoy including some form of general aviation in our vacations. It’s just “plane fun.” Sometimes it is by renting an airplane for a local flight around a city, others involve skydiving or taking a glider ride… but this time, we decided to take a complete “flying vacation.”

My husband Jared and I flew to the Florida Keys from our home base in Houston, Texas, and it was a great trip. We flew low and slow a total of 20.1 hours roundtrip in a C172N and we absolutely loved every minute of it. My husband is an airline pilot so he is certainly used to long cross-country trips but this was essentially his first one in a general aviation aircraft.

We really could not have made it to all the areas we visited if it wasn’t for general aviation aircraft and we did it at our own pace and schedule, stopping where we wanted to and when we wanted to, and the best of all… all in 3D and mostly with good weather. We visited beautiful parts of the country during our week off. Although the terrain was mostly flat given the states we visited (TX, LA, MS, AL, and FL), it was interesting to see the different types of agriculture, land, swamps, islands, rivers, sunsets (no, we did not fly early enough to see sunrises… we were on vacation after all…), water colors, sand colors, etc. not to mention the weather patterns, too. We also enjoyed spotting and identifying airports along the way.

The 172 we flew burned about 10 gallons an hour. With a 40 gallon tank, we calculated we were comfortable flying it a maximum of three hours a leg. That being said and given the winds aloft, our route there was EFD – PNS (our longest leg), PNS – LAL, and LAL – FD51. This alone accounted for 9.3 hours of flying.

We left Saturday, October 19, after I participated in Conroe, TX’s Challenge Air event, an event designed to build self-esteem and confidence in children and youth with special needs through the experience of flight. I really enjoyed my time with the kids at the event… it is just great to see the “before and after” taking the flight. Challenge Air was recently the recipient of one of AOPA’s Giving Back grants, too: Because we left Houston quite late in the afternoon, we decided to fly just one leg and spend the night in Pensacola, FL. By the way… Pensacola Aviation Center gives $0.25 fuel discounts to AOPA members. It felt great to be an AOPA member!

The next day, we flew the rest of the way to our destination airport by way of Lakeland, home of Sun ‘n fun, where were stopped for lunch at the on-site restaurant. The flight down from Lakeland was quite spectacular: over the Everglades and down the Keys. Our destination airport, FD51 – Summerland Key Cove, is a private airport between Marathon and Key West… the only airport in the world where airplanes are on one side of the house and boats are on the other. Pretty sweet, right? I loved that little (literally) airport! The runway is 2,550 ft long but only 26 ft wide. Making the numbers was rather important here! Also important was to watch for the balloon in R-2916.

FD51 – Summerland Key Cove Airport

FD51 – Summerland Key Cove Airport

Runway 30 at FD51 and the high altitude balloon in the distance

Runway 30 at FD51 and the high altitude balloon in the distance

A friend of ours let us use his beautiful house at the airport and the experience of flying into the house was phenomenal. One day… we’ll live on an airport community.

Friend’s house at FD51

Friend’s house at FD51

Here are a few pictures from our flights there:

Acadiana Regional Airport (ARA) in Louisiana with its runway and sealane

Acadiana Regional Airport (ARA) in Louisiana with its runway and sealane

Sunset over Mississippi

Sunset over Mississippi

Flying north of Destin

Flying north of Destin

The fairly new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City, FL

The fairly new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City, FL

And the old, now closed, Panama City airport

And the old, now closed, Panama City airport





Florida Keys

Florida Keys

The rest of the week, between our arrival and our departure, was your typical Florida vacation. My husband also took me to the Sugarloaf airport where they conduct skydiving operations and the Conch Flyer restaurant at the Key West International Airport (EYW) to watch airplanes. And, the day prior to our departure, we were walking around downtown Key West when we hear a fast moving airplane… we look up (what else would pilots do, right?) and it was no one else than Skip Stewart’s airplane! Alright! =) I contacted Skip via Facebook and he told us his ferry pilot Raymond Cabanas was just having a little fun. Awesome!

Conch Flyer restaurant at KEYW

Conch Flyer restaurant at KEYW

Aviation décor inside the Conch Flyer restaurant

Aviation décor inside the Conch Flyer restaurant

The only regret I have from our trip to the Keys was not flying a seaplane but the winds picked up tremendously towards the end of our stay.

Our route back was FD51 – MTH – BKV – DTW – LFT – EFD. That amounted to 10.8 flying hours. FD51 does not have fuel onsite so we had to relocate to MTH – Marathon to fill up. While we were there, we went to lunch, quickly visited the EAA Air Museum, and then headed to BKV – Hernando County Airport.

The controller at BKV was the sweetest controller. Upon departure, we asked if we could overfly the approach end of runway 3 to take a picture of a corn maze. He asked how it looked from the air and we joked with him that we had the exit plan. He called us cheaters, ha! =) He also asked us how long the flight to Destin was and we told him “two hours.” He is going to make that flight himself soon, he added. It beats the almost six hour drive and I do not believe there is a direct flight from Tampa (closest commercial airport to Hernando County) and Destin (and, even if there is, that is not to DTS but rather to VPS which is quite far from downtown Destin and the beach).

Corn maze at BKV

Corn maze at BKV

Oh, by the way, did you know that Zephyrhills, FL makes its own natural spring water?

2013-10-26 22.17.11

We arrived in Destin right after sunset, just in time for dinner with one of our pilot friends there. A nice walk on the beach the next morning and we head to LFT – Lafayette, LA for one of the best Cajun restaurants – Prejean’s.

Our destination airport, Ellington Field (EFD), was having the Wings over Houston airshow that day so we waited in LFT long enough to ensure that we would arrive in EFD past 5 pm when the airport opened. Well, that was not a problem. We had such terrible headwinds on the last leg that we barely hit 100 kts of groundspeed on descent! Ouch!

Here are a few pictures from our trip back:

Florida Keys

Florida Keys

Florida Keys

Florida Keys

Florida Keys

Florida Keys

Orange trees in Florida

Orange trees in Florida

Sunset approaching Destin

Sunset approaching Destin


Amazing Florida water and the airplane’s shadow


Coast of Florida


Difference in water color and depth


Arrow close to the LA and TX border


Approaching Houston

We truly had a great trip and general aviation and flying was really what made it all worth it and fun.

I will also tell you that, through Twitter, I tried to show the value of our trip to the local community where we stopped because, as you can imagine, we spent quite a bit of money on fuel, lodging, food, ground transportation, etc and that has a great impact to the local economy. Here is an example of that work after the completion of our trip. I sent tweets to the governors of TX, LA and FL as well as Florida’s Office of Tourism, Lafayette’s (Louisiana) official source for tourism, and Lafeyette’s City-Parish President. If nothing else, my intention was to bring general aviation to their attention and what an airplane flying in brings to their community besides noise.


Seaplane pilots need to speak up to preserve access in Whitehorse

Seaplane base at Whitehorse on Schwatka Lake, a section of the Yukon River.

Seaplane base at Whitehorse on Schwatka Lake, a section of the Yukon River.

Seaplane pilots who fly to and from Alaska through Canada need to speak up if they want to continue to use Schwatka Lake, the seaplane base at Whitehorse, Yukon Territories.  While the facility directory indicates there are tiedowns and fuel available, pilots often have a difficult time getting access to either one.

The City of Whitehorse is conducting an Area Plan for Schwatka Lake that will impact the future of the lake for aviation as well as marine users.  Planners are conducting an online survey, which only runs through November 5th.  Pilots who have, or plan to use this facility need to speak up, to counter non-aviation interests.

The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association’s Yukon Chapter is asking Alaskan and other U.S. seaplane pilots to participate in the survey to help the planners understand the importance of this facility—the only suitable float plane lake in the city.  COPA Yukon Chapter Director Jean-Michel Sauve says that support from pilots outside Whitehorse is critical to helping them explain the value of the seaplane base to pilots transiting along the Alaska Highway.  Sauve was one of the organizers of the highly successful Atlin Flyin in 2012, which attracted pilots from across Canada, Alaska and even a few western US states.  If seaplane pilots need more information on the Whitehorse Seaplane Base, they may contact him directly.

Please take the survey today to help protect this seaplane facility!

California Dreamin’

I remember my first California Pilots Association (CalPilots) annual meeting, about 20 or so years ago. It consisted of a day-long business meeting with 20-25 people around a conference table in the conference room of the Hiller Museum on San Carlos Airport.

My, my, how times have changed! This year’s event, dubbed California Dreamin’, was conducted at the San Luis Jet Center, located on the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. Held on a Friday night and most of Saturday, October 18-19, the event was a melange of networking, education, exhibits, food, and entertainment. And that was a combination that left me interested and involved throughout the event. Attendance was around 300.

The outstanding list of speakers included: Judy Phelps, CFI of the Year; Jamie Beckett, author of the monthly column “Politics for Pilots” in General Aviation News; Rod Machado, who needs no introduction (but just in case, CFI, author, motivational speaker and humorist); Mike Jesch, Fullerton Pilots Association; John Kounis, Editor-in-Chief of Pilot Getaways Magazine; AOPA’s own Bill Dunn, Vice President of Local Airports Advocacy. A recurring theme of many of the speakers was the need for local, statewide, and national involvement to develop and maintain support for aviation and airports.

AOPA was well represented with Bill Dunn, John Morrison, the AOPA Foundation Western Region Director of Development, and myself in attendance. Of course, most of the CalPilots in attendance were AOPA members also.

Many exhibitors were in attendance with a variety of wares and information.

Entertainment included bi-plane rides, a balloon glow, music by the San Luis Jazz Band, a raffle, and a silent auction. I have rarely participated in a silent auction, but this one got the best of me. So I came home with a 1990′s vintage Snoopy Sopwith Camel ceiling fan, still in its original packing. It was a pleasure to contribute to the event.

I offer my congratulations and thanks to Jolie Lucas and Mitch Latting, Co-Vice Presidents of CalPilots Region 3, who were the leading organizers of the event, as well as the CalPilots Board of Directors and all the volunteers who made the event possible.

On the way home Sunday thinking about my travel planning for 2014, I thought the whatever the event is called in 2014 and wherever it is held, it needs to be on my calendar. You might want to put it on your calendar, too. Date and place to be announced in the coming months.

And a postscript. When Jamie Beckett gave his first presentation on Friday night, he asked the audience of about 300 how many read General Aviation News. Three hands went up, mine being one. I was amazed, having previously assumed that everyone in GA reads GA News. I find it a great source of information.

Aerial photography: a time machine

Cameras and airplanes have been used together for many years.  The vantage point that an airplane provides—the ability to look down from above—is a powerful perspective when it comes to seeing patterns in the landscape.  One simply can’t get this view from standing on the ground.  While exciting to experience in flight, it is even more powerful to capture with a camera and bring this view back to earth.  Now one can examine the landscape in detail, take measurements, create maps and make all kinds of interpretations.  Geologists use them to help prospect for oil. Foresters determine the volume and location of wood resources. Biologists map animal habitat. The list goes on…

A fundamental property of a photograph is time.  The fraction of a second the shutter is open freezes a little slice of time, which turns a photograph into a record of the past from the instant the shutter closes.  So it was with much interest that I recently opened the August 25th edition of the Fairbanks Daily News Miner to discover an oblique aerial photograph taken over my home city (Fairbanks) some 70+ years ago.

A few days later, I was contacted by the Fairbanks metropolitan transportation planning organization, who had also seen the photograph, and wanted to locate a recent image from a similar vantage point for comparison.  A couple weeks later the weather cooperated, and I managed to bring camera and airplane together to orbit over Fairbanks and attempt to replicate the photo from the late 1940’s.  Then the real fun began, in comparing features from the two images.

Viewing 74 years of change

Aerial photograph of Fairbanks, taken June 17, 1393.

Aerial photograph of Fairbanks, taken June 17, 1939. Sources: Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Archive Source: Aerometric.

Modern view of Fairbanks, acquired September 24, 2013.

Modern view of Fairbanks, acquired September 24, 2013.

Fairbanks, Alaska in 1939.  Some research helped put a more precise date on the old aerial.  It was taken on June 17, 1939, and the negative of this image (frame 3224) is still in the archives at Aerometric in Anchorage.  [Coincidentally, this image was taken just a month after AOPA was incorporated. AOPA will be celebrating it’s 75th anniversary next year.]

Perhaps the most striking difference between the two images is the Chena River, which bisects down town Fairbanks. In the 1939 photo it much larger than today.  Even though the old image is black and white, the light tone of the river is because it was filled with water laden with glacial silt. At the time, this stretch of the river was a slough of the much larger Tanana River, whose main channel flows a few miles south of town (see map below).  Modern flood control structures upstream today (hopefully) keep the glacier fed Tanana river water out of the Chena, leaving it a smaller, but clearer river. And making the town to be less susceptible to flooding.

Then sporting a population of something over 3,000 people, Fairbanks has obviously grown with houses and buildings filling in where fields or undisturbed land once prevailed.  Today downtown Fairbanks has a population over 30,000 and the surrounding metro area is just shy of 100,000.  In the background of the 1939 picture, just on the southern edge of town is Weeks Field, the city airstrip.  As with airports at many communities then and now, the town grew up around the airport, eventually forcing it to move.  Today, the stretch of land that was Weeks Field is occupied by Lathrop High School and the Noel Wien Library on one end, extending to Growden Memorial Park, other ball fields, and the Carlson Community Activity Center on the other.

Looking ahead
In the upper right corner of the modern photograph—barely visible—is the northern edge of Fairbanks International Airport.   The map (below) is part of a 1952 USGS topographic map which at that time depicts Weeks Field as well as the newly constructed “Fairbanks Airport” that would grow to become a major transportation hub for Fairbanks and interior Alaska, responsible for over 2,000 jobs and a total economic impact of about $225 M annually to Fairbanks and the State of Alaska.

Portion of the 1952 USGS topo map of Fairbanks. White arrow shows location and direction of the aerial photos above. The map shows both the location of Weeks Field and the location of the modern Fairbanks International Airport.

Portion of the 1952 USGS topo map of Fairbanks. White arrow shows location and direction of the aerial photos above. The map shows both the location of Weeks Field and the location of the modern Fairbanks International Airport.

Comparing these two pictures certainly made me appreciate some of the changes that have taken place over time.  Photographs and images taken from the “aerial perspective” can be powerful tools to study the present and appreciate change through time.  In thinking about the next 75 years, we will need to remain vigilant to ensure that future growth at Fairbanks doesn’t threaten the viability of the airport, which fortunately has a good buffer of land around it today.  I hope someone acquiring an aerial image 75 years from now will be able to report that we were good stewards of our towns and airports for the generations to follow!

Heads up Lake Hood Users: Z41 is going away!

Now that I have your attention, let me clarify: the Z41 Identifier is going away, not the Lake Hood Strip.

Airport diagram for Lake Hood, including the Lake Hood Strip. Pilots will no longer file flight plans to Z41 when flying to or from the gravel runway associated with the float plane facility.

Airport diagram for Lake Hood, including the Lake Hood Strip. Pilots will no longer file flight plans using Z41 when flying to or from the gravel runway associated with the float plane facility.

For as long as I can remember, Z41 has been the identifier for the 2,200 foot gravel runway on the north side of Lake Hood.  But as of 0901 Z, October 17, 2013, that identifier is being retired, and the strip will just be runway 14/32 at LHD (or PALH if you prefer the four digit ICAO designation).  This cleans up an administrative detail, as having a unique identifier it was treated in certain FAA publications as a separate airport.  While the Lake Hood Strip entry in the Alaska Supplement is gone, the detailed maps of the seaplane base and the gravel strip in Section C, Notices (pages 344-345 in the Oct. 17 edition) will remain.

When I fly to Anchorage International Airport, Z41—I mean the Lake Hood Strip— is my favorite destination.  Generally quicker and easier to get into than the paved runways on the “big airplane” side of the airport.  Less worry about wake turbulence with the heavy jet traffic that is the lion’s share of ANC’s business.

If you have questions about this change, get in touch with the Lake Hood Seaplane Base Manager, Tim Coons at 907-266-2741 or via email:

So long, Z41. But long live the Lake Hood Strip!

PS. Concurrent with this change is a revision to the Chickaloon VFR Departure.  Pilots who use this procedure should examine these changes.

Just How Is the Future of Small Community Air Service Linked to General Aviation?


13-GT-0023 Regional Manager Map_NW Mountain     During the first week of October, I enjoyed the opportunity to attend the Northwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives’ (NWAAAE) annual conference.  This outstanding event brought together over 180 airport managers, public officials, aviation planners and advisors for three days of great discussion about issues facing airports in the Northwest Mountain Region, plus Alaska and Western Canada.  One of the most interesting discussions was a topic near and dear to my heart- the increasing reliance of future small community air service on a vibrant general aviation industry.  This is pretty interesting, and it’s a connection not many on the airport side have made, so stick with me…

     In the seven states in AOPA’s Northwest Mountain region (see graphic above), there are just four major hub airports- Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City and Denver.  As such, general aviation airports and small commercial service airports play a significant role in providing transportation access and economic development for our region’s smaller communities.

     At every one of the 66 other commercial service airports in the region, GA plays a significant role, right alongside the airline service that provides these communities with critical and economically important airline connections worldwide.  As you’ve seen at these airports, GA and airline operations coexist in separate worlds, physically and oftentimes existentially.  Of course this is born from the reality that GA and the airlines have vastly different security, operational and infrastructure requirements- usually the only portions of an airport shared by GA and the airlines are the runways and taxiways.  As such, many airport professionals, their tenants and their community think of GA and the airlines separately, and not just in a physical sense.  Well, in today’s new world, this approach may be at their peril.

     At the NWAAAE Conference, one of the most engaging sessions was about the future of small community air service.  One of the primary discussions centered around the FAA’s new “1,500 hour rule”, which in essence, requires most pilots flying in a commercial airliner to now have at least 1,500 hours of flying time before warming a seat in an airline cockpit.  In the past, a newly minted commercially rated multi-engine pilot with just a few hundred hours might land a job as a first officer with a regional airline.

     Well,  no more.

     Now, until most reach that 1,500 hour mark, pilots will have to find other ways to build flight time.  The result for the airlines?  A smaller pool of qualified pilots, which is exacerbating the existing and future airline pilot shortage.  Boeing, which annually forecasts future pilot demand worldwide, recently underscored this widening gap between pilot supply and demand by revising upward their Twenty Year New Pilot Outlook from their 2012 estimate of 460,000 to the current estimate of 498,000.

cancelled_flights1     And what happens when airlines don’t have enough flight crews for their aircraft?  As USA Today recently pointed out, they cancel flights.  And where are many of these flights most likely to be cancelled?  Often at smaller commercial service airports served by regional airlines, which are most dependent on relatively newer pilots, and thus more acutely impacted by the new rule.  In fact, according to the Regional Airline Association, regional airlines fly nearly 50% of all airline flights in the U.S., and provide almost 100% of air service to smaller communities.  In the Northwest Mountain region, 45 of the region’s 70 commercial service airports are served only  by regional airlines, so the potential impact of the new 1,500 hour rule could be quite widespread.  Air service to smaller communities is often financially tenuous for airlines, and when there is a limited pool of aircraft and pilots to fly them, service to these marginal markets will likely be the first to be reduced or even eliminated.

Jgaust how will communities get to keep their economically important and highly coveted commercial air service going forward?  Most certainly by supporting, encouraging and helping to grow a strong and vibrant GA system that will be the source of their airlines’ future flight crews.  With the military no longer a significant source of civilian aviators, most aspiring airline pilots will rely on GA flying to build time- whether it’s flight instruction, banner towing, aerial application or sightseeing flights.

     No longer can communities and airport managers think of GA and airlines separately… even as we continue to park our airplanes in different places on the airport.   So at your airport, be sure your elected officials, your community and your airport manager understand today’s powerful nexus between general aviation and their commercial air service:

     No new general aviation pilots?  No new airline pilots.

     No new airline pilots?  Fewer airline flights.

     Fewer airline flights?  Reduced or eliminated air service to smaller communities with financially marginal regional airline service.

     Reduced or eliminated airline service?  Not a pleasant prospect for smaller communities.

     The solution for these communities?  Work to support GA, so you can support the future of your commercial air service.

17th Annual Association of California Airports Fall Conference

shutt awardThe Association of California Airports (ACA) held its 17th annual Fall Conference at South Lake Tahoe September 11-13. For the 11th consecutive year, the conference venue was the Inn by the Lake, with beautiful accommodations and a terrific view of Lake Tahoe.

Attendance at the conference was about 140, down a few from last year but with many first time attendees. As always, the program was a mix of basic instruction sessions and discussions of current issues and topics. Some of the topics included: Airfield Safety, Phasing, and Keys to Construction; Landing Safely with Storm Water Compliance; Airport Compliance; Establishing General Aviation Rents and Fees; NEPA/CEQA Update. Current Issues included General Aviation Drug Trafficking and Security Threats; UAVs/FAA Test Sites and the Risk and Rewards; Open Discussion of Current California Airport Issues.

I found the Department of Homeland Security presentation on drug trafficking and security very interesting. Hearing the DHS Agent describe what they do and give examples of the threats and drugs the interdict, I felt disconnected from the aviation media stories I have read about abusive and unauthorized searches of GA pilots and aircraft. I came away not knowing what to think!

The session I led on Current California Issues stimulated discussion of a recent Airport Cooperative Research Program report entitled “Impact of Regulatory Compliance on Small Airports.” In addition, we talked about leaded avgas replacement, impacts of sequestration, and the declining pilot population.

We were honored to have Wayne Handley as our Keynote Speaker. Wayne is a former naval aviator, ag pilot, aerobatic champion, and preeminent air show performer. Since beginning his aviation career in 1957, he has amassed over 31,000 hours of flight time, reportedly with very little of it spent in straight, level, and upright flight. He told fascinating stories of his career.

The highlight of the General Membership Meeting was the presentation of ACA’s second annual Michael A. Shutt Award. Michael Shutt was known in the airport industry as a leader, consummate aviation professional, and problem solver. He was a consulting engineer, experienced pilot, long term AOPA member, founding member of ACA, and served many years on the ACA Board of Directors. The Michael A. Shutt Award was created in 2012 in his memory to recognize the efforts of individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the growth and development of California airports. I had the privilege of presenting this year’s award to Mary Hansen, Manager of the Yuba County Airport and long term ACA Secretary/Treasurer. She was recognized for her dedicated service on the Board of Directors, calmly handling all manner of complex issues, and she is a valued leader in the air show industry. We all thank Mary for her dedicated service to California aviation.

It was a wonderful and rewarding conference. I came home exhausted and pleased, and am already looking forward to the 18th Fall Conference, to again be held at the Inn by the Lake, September 10-12, 2014.

A note to air race fans. The ACA conference runs Wednesday through Friday and is the week of the National Championship Air Races, held Thursday through Sunday at Reno Stead Airport, only an hour and a half from South Lake Tahoe.

Small cuts account for big gains

Two months after Maine’s legislature cements a sales tax exemption on aircraft, parts, and services, the quaint New England state is already seeing expansive growth from its modest aviation industry.  From the production of jobs and boost in revenues to increased spending on airport infrastructure, Maine’s aviation industry finds success at all levels.    

For aviation advocates like me, I often reflect on how fortunate I am to represent an industry that clearly speaks for itself as these targeted and proven tax exemptions are the envy of state aviation industries everywhere.  I am delighted to report that Maine now joins five other New England states that offer similar industry exemptions, leveling a playing field that has historically seen a—slow climb through rising terrain—for the region’s largest and most northern state.

As Regional Managers, my colleagues and I focus on engaging any alternatively focused entities who prefer to turn a deaf ear to a growing industry’s chimes.  We seek those who seek to paint yellow X’s on our legislative runways and who are quick to harangue these industry exemptions as corporate tax breaks that serve only to boost a bottom line and return nothing for public benefit.  To use the words of a character from a popular television series, “While I accept your premise (tax breaks improve revenues), I reject your conclusion (serve no public benefit).”  I simply need to point to the families in Maine of the more than 100 new jobs created since 2011, offering both good-wages and benefits. 

As demand increases, so does the cost of doing business: new workers, capital investments, and material consumption—each producing exponential values of direct and indirect economic benefit.  Capital investments in airport infrastructure generate demand for consulting and construction crews, while the accelerated use of materials generates revenue for wholesalers and other service providers.  In this example one action, facility investment, carries the potential to spur a series of additional (taxable) actions—a picture perfect illustration of how airports can serve communities as economic engines. 

For an industry that clearly speaks for itself, the real challenge is getting policymakers to listen—this is where you and I come in.  As a citizen in a democracy and resident of your state, you have a voice.  The truth is your elected-officials would much rather hear from you, Joe Constituent Smith, than me—alphabet group.  The difference is your membership in our organization lends me your voice.  With this in mind, special thanks is owed to the nearly 400,000 members across our nation—so THANK YOU to each of you for lending your voice as your Regional Managers carry your message into the 2014 legislative sessions.  Keep our voice strong and JOIN  or  RENEW online today! Use priority Code: M13XXFSCE