Learning From Experience

Just as there's no single runway length that's appropriate for all aircraft, there's no single approach to preserving an airport. But we've found in our research that two common threads run through almost all successful efforts to promote or protect aviation resources.

The first is active participation. Airport supporters need to be proactive because positive things can only happen when someone takes the initiative to make them happen.

The second is communication beyond the end of the runway -- taking the case for an airport's positive contributions outside the aviation community and into the surrounding community. Most people hear little more from airports than the noise made by the aircraft using them.

The airport users can complain -- and often do -- about an adversarial local government, or about how cranky neighbors in the new development under the downwind have little or no understanding of how and why the airport works. But the old excuses for not dealing with local sentiment -- "the airport was here first," "we've always done it this way," and "the FAA says I can" -- just aren't credible responses to people's concerns, whether those concerns are real or only perceived.

The operation of an airport isn't top secret. It's commerce. Unless airport owners and operators, facility users, supporters including members of the business community that rely on the airport, and regulators make a commitment to communicate an airport's benefits beyond its physical boundaries -- beyond the end of the runway -- then we're doomed to further losses of facilities that can never be replaced.

The Wolf Aviation Fund hopes that you find the information contained in this guide useful and that it points you in the right direction. Airports across the country may differ in size and use. But, whether large or small, virtually all of them face some sort of challenge to their ability to serve the flying public -- and, in turn, the elimination of their potential to provide benefits to their host and neighboring communities -- unless we all take action.