August 9, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
A vote by local officials to upgrade the Kalispell (Mont.) City Airport not only will make the facility safer and more efficient, but expresses the community’s confidence in an airport that has faced more than its share of closure threats, AOPA said.
On July 17 the Kalispell City Council made its strong statement about the airport’s future, voting to upgrade the airport to a higher level of design standards in a project that would tap federal Airport Improvement Program grant funds. The upgrade was recommended by an airport planning study, according to a local news report.
The city decision to move forward would insulate the airport against continued bids for its closure in part because the grant contract would require that the airport continue in operation. The vote also reaffirmed assurances AOPA received in 2010 when Airport Support Network volunteer Scott Richardson and ASN Director Joey Colleran visited the airport, and met with city staff.
Advocacy efforts were stepped up on June 29 when AOPA President Craig Fuller, Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro, and Northwest Mountain Regional Manager David Ulane visited the airport during a Recreational Aviation Foundation conference held in Kalispell. Their visit was covered by local news media.
In another upbeat development, more than 70 percent of those responding since June to an online poll being conducted by Kalispell’s daily newspaper, The Daily Interlake, favored keeping the airport.
Against that backdrop, pilots are urged to remain active and engaged in support of the airport as opponents are continuing to press their closure campaign by organizing a potential voter referendum that could be on the ballot in November 2013.
“AOPA’s advocacy team is working diligently and collaboratively to preserve and protect GA airports like Kalispell, and we will continue to do so going forward,” said Pecoraro.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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