March 11, 2010
By Dave Hirschman
Vista Field in Kennewick, Wash., will remain an airport after the Port of Kennewick Commission voted unanimously to support the embattled facility.
The decisive March 8 vote follows three years of dedicated and focused work by AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer Marjy Leggett, who encouraged pro-airport candidates to seek office and mobilized fellow Washington pilots to come to the aid of the city-owned airport.
Leggett even organized ground transportation and overnight accommodations for Washington pilots who flew to Vista Field to attend the crucial meeting. A standing-room-only crowd of about 175 people turned out, and the vast majority strongly supported the airport.
“To all of you from AOPA who supported us, we send you a huge thank you!” Leggett said following the victory.
Vista Field was targeted for closure by commercial real estate developers and some area residents. The facility was built during World War II for military airplanes based at Pasco, Wash., and was later converted to civilian use. It’s currently used for emergency medical services, law enforcement, aerial firefighting, search and rescue, and pilots who fly for business and recreation.
AOPA congratulated Vista Field supporters for their victory and encouraged pilots and airport supporters around the country to follow their example.
“Airport supporters worked for three long years to educate the community and the elected officials about the value of the airport to the community,” said AOPA Airport Policy Manager John Collins. “They cultivated good political relationships and understood that educating their community about the value of the airport is a never-ending process that pays off in the long run.”
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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