April 2, 2009
By Sarah Brown
A few of the more than 2,000 volunteers whose vigilance helps AOPA protect general aviation airports got a chance to review their airports’ progress with AOPA last week as Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy, stopped at airports in California.
Dunn met with volunteers of the AOPA Airport Support Network, a special group dedicated to promoting and protecting community airports. The volunteers reported progress and new construction for GA facilities at their home airports and continued to keep AOPA up to date on other developments that may threaten GA operations at the airports.
“The ASN program is a vital part of the association’s airport advocacy efforts,” Dunn said. “As such, it is important that we be out in the field supporting members’ needs and desires for airport development through the local presence of active volunteers. Our on-scene involvement and visits allow AOPA to see and hear firsthand what’s happening at general aviation airports throughout the United States.”
Thanks to efforts from AOPA and the watchful eyes of ASN volunteers, Van Nuys Airport, Hayward Executive Airport, and Concord Buchanan Field are all looking ahead to improvements for their GA facilities.
At Van Nuys, ASN Board of Advisers member Elliott Sanders has led the multi-year campaign to ensure that GA aircraft continue to have the ability to call that airport home. Efforts paid off, and last week Dunn and Sanders reviewed plans for a new GA hangar and tie-down area. The project, five years in the making, is scheduled to break ground in August or September of this year.
Sanders has also been involved in promoting the annual Aviation Career Day at Van Nuys, which began in 2005 as a way to draw local high school students into the airport community. Attendance at the event grew to more than 1,200 by last year, and planners expect 1,700 this spring. The career day will take place April 24 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In his meeting with volunteer Roger Bohl at Hayward Executive Airport, Dunn found that the airport is going strong, even while businesses in many sectors feel the economic pinch of recession. With increased operations at the airport and significant revenue coming from nonaviation uses of property owned by the airport, Hayward has enjoyed support from the community and has plans to grow. The airport manager hopes to build a new GA terminal pilots’ lounge, and the site is in the process of being raised to a category C-II airport. Meanwhile, as a protective measure, Bohl is also monitoring proposed plans for two power plants nearby that could have an adverse effect on approaches to the airport from the south. AOPA has opposed construction of those facilities.
Like Hayward, Concord Buchanan Field has significant public support. In a meeting with ASN volunteer Dave Evans and local airport officials, Dunn discussed plans for a new GA hangar development that could add 40 to 44 new hangars to the airport.
The ASN program's goal is to have a volunteer appointed at every public-use airport in the country to serve as an "early warning system" for local airport issues. Ensure your airport has an AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer. If it doesn’t, consider nominating yourself or someone you know for this critically important role.
While some volunteers go above and beyond the basic responsibilities, there are really two basic duties: to be "in the know" at the airport and to let AOPA know if anything threatens the airport. ASN volunteers are pilots who should be based at the airport (whether they own or rent aircraft) for which they're hoping to be appointed.
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