March 24, 2009
By Dave Hirschman
Children explore the inside of the SR22.
Children stood on the wings and peered inside the open doors for their first close look at a general aviation aircraft on March 21 at Connecticut’s Robertson Field open house. Veteran fliers took note of the modern avionics, leather seats, and airframe parachute of AOPA’s Let’s Go Flying Cirrus SR22 Sweepstakes airplane.
Voters in Plainville, Conn., will decide March 31 whether the state’s oldest airport, Robertson Field (established in 1911), will remain an active airport or be sold for real estate development. The Let’s Go Flying SR22 made the trip from its home base in Frederick, Md., to Robertson Field (4B8) on March 21 where it took center stage at an open house designed to show Plainville residents the types of aircraft and future economic benefits they can expect by preserving the airport.
“Bringing the Let’s Go Flying SR22 here is a tangible way for AOPA to support the people fighting to preserve this jewel of an airport,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of regional affairs. “It also lets the voters here see and touch the kinds of aircraft that will expand economic opportunities here. We can provide real information on which they can base their decisions.”
Voters will decide whether Plainville will pay $96,000 of the total $7.7 million cost of buying the airfield. Previous studies determined the airport and its associated businesses will run a surplus and bring new businesses to the area. Federal and state governments have offered to pay the vast majority of the acquisition costs as long as the facility remains part of the nation’s air transportation system.
AOPA has purchased ads in local newspapers and notified area pilots of the upcoming vote.
More than 2,000 people attended Robertson Airfield’s open house. It also was the first stop on a busy year-long schedule for the Let’s Go Flying SR22. The airplane — a donation from philanthropist J. Lloyd Huck — is the centerpiece of the AOPA’s Let’s Go Flying campaign, an ongoing project meant to strengthen general aviation by expanding the U.S. pilot population.
“It was a great turnout, all had a chance to see the Let’s Go Flying airplane up close." - Neil Witkin, ASN volunteer
Neal Witkin, a Connecticut volunteer for AOPA’s Airport Support Network, helped organize the Robertson Airfield open house where more than 100 people took their first flights in GA airplanes on a cool, crisp spring day.
“It was a great turnout,” Witkin said, “and all had a chance to see the Let’s Go Flying airplane up close. With great appreciation and heartfelt thanks, I thank you for your dedication to save this general aviation airport.”
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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