Kalispell airport to remain open

<BR cmid="Article:Two Deck"><SPAN class=twodeck cmid="Article:Two Deck">AOPA works to protect Montana airports</SPAN>

March 11, 2010

Kalispell City Airport in Montana will remain open and in its current location, according to latest discussions between the city and AOPA officials. In Three Forks, AOPA is working with local pilots to establish protections for the airport.

Challenges the two airports brought AOPA’s airports team to Montana a few days early as AOPA Director of Advocacy Joey Colleran visited the state to join Regional Representative Mike Ferguson at Montana’s annual Aviation Conference.

During their visit to the state, Colleran and Ferguson hosted a meeting of Montana AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteers during which they discussed a number of aviation issues critical to the state, including the Powder River Military Operations Area, border security issues, and various challenges to airports. They also spent time strengthening AOPA’s relationship with the Montana Pilots Association (MPA) and its president, Wade Cebulski. Cebulski is also AOPA’s ASN volunteer at Seeley Lake.

Two principal airport issues in which AOPA has been engaged with local pilots and the MPA are Kalispell and Three Forks. An active anti-airport group has been pushing the city to close and relocate the airport. Colleran and Ferguson joined ASN volunteer Scott Richardson at Kalispell, where they toured the airport, met with the city manager and the airport manager, and discussed the future of the airport. During the meetings, city staff assured AOPA that the city has no intention of closing this valuable airport.

In Three Forks, AOPA has been working with ASN volunteer David Boyd and area pilots to win city approval of a new ordinance to provide greater protection to Pogreba Airport and to preserve the land around it from incompatible development of obstacles. The planning commission has approved the ordinance, which now awaits a vote by the city council.

“Protection of airports is critical in a state like Montana that depends heavily on aviation” said Colleran. “Montana’s aviation community is actively engaged in this effort, and they are great allies for AOPA as we work with them.”