Local pilots rally to protect St. Augustine Airport

May 8, 2008

Local pilots rally to protect St. Augustine Airport

By AOPA Communications staff

There is strength in numbers. Local pilots and AOPA members in St. Augustine, Fla., proved it this week when they banded together to save their airport from a takeover and potential closure by the St. Johns County commissioners.

The airport, a vital community asset, will continue to be run by the St. Augustine Airport Authority.

“What’s so impressive about this victory is that a group of pilots were passionate enough about the issue to speak up when the future of their airport was at stake,” said AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Greg Pecoraro. “The outcome shows what can happen when a group presents a well-organized and reasoned argument in favor of their local airport.”

The St. Augustine Airport Pilots Association spoke out at last week’s commission meeting to voice its opposition to the suggestion that the county commissioners run the airport instead of the St. Augustine Airport Authority.

More than 70 airport supporters attended the commission meeting, at which there was a vote on whether to put the takeover proposal on the November ballot. After listening to the airport supporters’ arguments that the authority was already doing a good job and it didn’t need to be disbanded, the commission voted unanimously to not put the referendum on the ballot.

Among those present was AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) Volunteer Mike “Gunner” Thompson. ASN is a nationwide network of volunteers who serve as AOPA’s eyes and ears at their local general aviation airports and alert AOPA when issues arise that need attention.

To help with the St. Augustine issue, AOPA provided Thompson with some background information related to airport authorities in the state of Florida and discussed pros and cons related to a change of sponsor and federal obligations associated with St. Augustine.

May 8, 2008