November 20, 2003
January 22, 2004
AOPA President Phil Boyer honored Jack Tunstill, the AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteer for St. Petersburg, Fla.'s Albert Whitted Airport, at a surprise dinner tonight. Tunstill was the driving force locally behind the triumphant effort to save the bayside airport, working in close coordination with AOPA's Airports department.
"Jack epitomizes the ASN volunteer," said Boyer. "He spoke out in strong defense of Albert Whitted in the face of apparently overwhelming odds. He worked to coordinate the efforts of two airport support groups—the Airport Advisory Council and the Albert Whitted Airport Preservation Society—both of which are represented here tonight. He helped St. Petersburg residents understand the true consequences of the anti-airport ballot initiative. In short, he supported his airport and he never gave up."
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November 21, 2003
AOPA President Phil Boyer on Wednesday night paid tribute to those who led the fight to preserve St. Petersburg's Albert Whitted Airport (SPG). During a Pilot Town Meeting in Tampa, Boyer officially recognized the efforts of the two local organizations that led the fight to keep the airport open—the Albert Whitted Airport Advisory Committee and the Albert Whitted Preservation Society—presenting certificates of recognition to Ruth Varn, president of the advisory committee and head of the Albert Whitted Political Action Committee, and Terri Griner, president of the Albert Whitted Preservation Society.
Photo: AOPA President Phil Boyer presents an AOPA award to Ruth Varn, president of the Albert Whitted Advisory Committee and former Sharples Award winner.
November 20, 2003
AOPA President Phil Boyer and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker on Wednesday held an extremely productive meeting on the future of Albert Whitted Airport (SPG) and ways the association can help the city.
"Mayor Baker is a good politician, and he recognizes that the voters have spoken," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "He is committed to turning Albert Whitted Airport into a world-class general aviation facility that will be a focal point for the community.
"And as we committed AOPA resources to save the airport, we'll now work hand-in-hand with the city to improve it."
Photo: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker shows Phil Boyer a possible location for a new terminal at Albert Whitted Airport.
November 6, 2003
Following Tuesday night's resounding victory for Albert Whitted Airport (SPG), St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker announced Wednesday he will no longer pursue his "compromise" plan to close one of the airport's two runways and sell some land for development. And the city council, six of whose eight members were solidly pro-airport, wasted no time after Tuesday's mandate.
At a council meeting Thursday morning, the board agreed to establish a working group to set priorities for badly needed improvements. Jack Tunstill, AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer for Albert Whitted, told the council members that the working group needs to have at least four aviation members—two from each of the local airport support groups. "We are the vested interest," said Tunstill. "We are the people who drove this issue to its conclusion Tuesday night. The working group needs to include our voices."
November 5, 2003
A waterside airport with a long history. A mayor who wants to close part of the airport and turn it into a park and other developments. Sounds like Meigs Field in Chicago? But this time the outcome was much different. No bulldozers will be ripping up the runway at St. Petersburg's (Florida) Albert Whitted Airport. Thanks to the hard work of local airport advocates and AOPA, aircraft will be landing at SPG in perpetuity.
November 4, 2003
The polls have closed, the votes are in, and the only losers in the battle over St. Petersburg's Albert Whitted Airport (SPG) are the developers who were eying the airport for high-rise condos. "AOPA is pleased that the voters of St. Petersburg have finally put to rest the threat to this vital and vibrant airport," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Albert Whitted is a gateway that brings much business into the St. Petersburg area. It's also an integral part of the national air transport system, so its fate was an issue for pilots across the country."
October 29, 2003
With a November 4 ballot measure election that will determine the future of St. Petersburg's Albert Whitted Airport (SPG) looming, AOPA has an aggressive public relations campaign to save the airport under way.
In a targeted campaign, AOPA has begun airing 30-second commercial advertisements Tuesday, which will run through election day next Tuesday. The association has also produced and sent a number of mail pieces to voters detailing the cost of closing the airport, both in terms of job loss and forced repayment of FAA grant obligations, and the impact on local services provided by medevac and state police helicopter operations. The mailings also point out the possibility of high-rise condo development in place of the airport.
October 14, 2003
AOPA is stepping up efforts to protect Albert Whitted Municipal Airport (SPG), located on the bay in St. Petersburg, Fla., from renewed attack. A well-financed vocal minority of anti-airport activists have forced an initiative onto this November's ballot demanding that the city close the airport and turn at least half of it into a park by 2011, 10 years earlier than obligations to the FAA would allow.
"AOPA has been involved in the fight to keep Albert Whitted open for years, winning many battles in the past," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But as the issue comes to a head on this November's ballot, we're bringing the full weight of AOPA's considerable experience in protecting local airports to bear." Just last week, Boyer and AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn traveled to St. Petersburg to meet with airport advocates and discuss strategies and how AOPA could support their efforts.
September 25, 2003
AOPA is involved in hands-on fights at two Florida airports being threatened with closure. AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn met with airport supporters and city officials in St. Petersburg to discuss Albert Whitted Field (SPG), while AOPA Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes helped airport advocates in Stuart plot strategy to support Witham Field (SUA).
"These airports are a vital part of a national transportation system and must remain open and available without unnecessary restrictions," said Dunn. "In each case, anti-airport activists have cajoled local officials into at least considering the airports' closure. The best defense is always a good offense, so we've been working with airport supporters to help explain the benefits of a GA airport to the community and dispel the misinformation being given to the public at large."
Photo: AOPA VP of Airports Bill Dunn (center) with Ruth Varn, chair of the Airport Advisory Commission, and Jack Tunstill, AOPA ASN volunteer for SPG.
August 13, 2003
AOPA President Phil Boyer and senior staff members huddled Wednesday afternoon with Rick Carr, president of the Albert Whitted Preservation Society, to plot strategy for protecting St. Petersburg, Florida's waterfront airport.
Photo: Rick Carr (second from left), president of AWPS, with (l-r) AOPA VP Airports Bill Dunn, AOPA President Phil Boyer, AOPA Senior VP of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula, ASN Specialist John Collins (partially obscured), and ASN Manager Mark Lowdermilk. The large stack in the middle of the table is AOPA's ongoing file on the Albert Whitted fight.
May 1, 2002
The FAA has told the city of St. Petersburg, Florida, that it must keep Albert Whitted Airport (SPG) open. The strong FAA action was prompted by AOPA and AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Jack Tunstill, and the action shows that the FAA is getting tougher on enforcing grant agreements to maintain public-use airports.
SPG is located on prime waterfront real estate that the city of St. Petersburg wants to redevelop into a park and mixed housing area. The city had accepted federal grants for the airport, and that obligates the city to keep the airport open. But the city thought that by repaying FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant money, it would be able to close the airport. In two letters and in no uncertain terms, the FAA told the city it couldn't do that.
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