A Disappearing Resource
It's ironic. While government
and the traveling public often express their frustrations over the saturation
of our airways and the endless delays for airline flights, the very
solutions to the problem -- including improved, upgraded and even new
general aviation facilities designed to relieve the strain on the system
-- face incredible hurdles.
There is a short list of
such obstacles that may prevent or delay relief for some time to come.
But when it comes right down to it, one of the biggest challenges facing
aviation today is that of operating airports, whether large or small,
on a day-to-day basis in the face of community adversity.
The threats to airports in
many parts of the country have increased over the years due to a variety
of reasons, including political expediency, encroaching and non-compatible
development, and a myriad of other often inexcusable or avoidable factors.
In some locations the difficulties
dealt devastating blows to aviation, such as airport closures, excessively
restricted operations, and needless delay and expense to airport owners
or managers who must defend their right to operate or to make improvements
to their facilities.
Ultimately the local communities
are the losers, because in the final analysis it is the area residents
and businesses that suffer the consequences of reduced transportation
capabilities, including all the economic and societal losses that follow.
And note that these challenges threaten airports that are both privately
and publicly owned.
But there is some good news
to be found in the face of this adversity. There are wonderful airport
success stories, often in places where airport operators, users, and
supporters rallied and undertook programs and campaigns to generate
the kind of community support that gives an airport a future. In other
places, self-promotion and education have long meant self-preservation
because the airport has proven itself to be part of the community and
not just located in it.
There are tried and proven
ways to prevent a tide of opposition from rising against your airport
-- or, if it already has, to turn that tide back and garner support
and understanding. There are lessons to be learned for all of us.