Safety, and Success in Numbers

Ask businessman Steve Whitney what would have happened at Chicago's Meigs Field if a proactive organization hadn't stepped up to protect his airport and you can imagine his answer. Meigs Field would already be nothing more than a fictional airport on Microsoft's Flight Simulator computer program. Retired airline captain and aviation writer Barry Schiff would say the same thing about the aviation community's battle to preserve Santa Monica Airport in California. Ask that same question of others who organized efforts to protect their interests at other airports across the country and the answer will most likely be the same.

Unless the people with the greatest amount at stake get involved (that's us!), and get others involved because they too share some stake in the airport's operation, an even greater number of airports will join the ranks of those that today are strip malls and housing developments.

Building alliances with groups, organizations, and people beyond airport boundaries is vital to any effort to save an airport. This is just as important as building formal, and visible, support groups. These groups and alliances show the airport is worth something to more than just those with a vested interest in using it to fly.

Linking up with representatives of the business world -- those with great influence on the community at large such as members of the Chambers of Commerce and other business associations, and other stakeholders that make up the fabric of a community -- offers a far greater ability to influence local leaders than by working with just the airport community itself. Such alliances add credibility and allow people to view the issues in a context that is beyond what they might perceive as our self-interest. It's the third-party allies and their own individual constituencies that can help sway opinion leaders and those they represent.

Everyone who's been involved in protecting an airport's future acknowledges that someone has to take on the responsibility of organizing a group that crosses aviation boundaries and represents a cross-section of the community, one that understands the importance of a facility to its community.

To locate groups that might have faced situations similar to the one you're experiencing at your airport, check the state listings under "Statewide Aviation Groups/Organizations" and "Airport Support Groups." And if you can't find one, consider forming one using the guidance available from many of the organizations we list.

Related Links:

Challenges faced by the airports of today aren't that different from those faced more than 20 years ago, like the effort to close Santa Monica Airport (CA). To see how the problems of yesterday are the same as those of today, and how the efforts that led to success then are similar to those of today, see the stories in our Resources Section .