March 28, 2003
Fort Wayne, Indiana's Smith Field (SMD) is safe today, thanks to the long, persistent efforts of local pilots. Working closely with AOPA, the local pilots' group SAFE (Smith Airfield ForEver) yesterday convinced the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority to overturn its earlier decision to close the general aviation airport this coming summer.
Helping to lead the fight to keep the airport open has been AOPA's Airport Support Network volunteer Ken Russell. "The reason AOPA formed the ASN program in the first place was to help save airports," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The hard work of our more than 1,400 volunteers nationwide does not go unnoticed, and the efforts of Ken and all the local supporters are proof that airports can be saved from closure through the hard work of pilots, backed by a strong national organization like AOPA."
SAFE fought a years-long battle against the airport authority, which seemed determined to close Smith Field, no matter what. The pilots' organization lined up support from businesses and even community members in the neighborhoods around Smith Field. SAFE organized a rally in support of the airport earlier this year, at which Boyer and AOPA Vice President of Airports Anne Esposito spoke in support of Smith Field. Boyer and Esposito also spent much of that day talking to local reporters about the value of keeping the airport open.
The airport authority's vote yesterday to keep Smith Field open was four commissioners in favor, one opposed, and one not present.
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