March 28, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
AOPA members in Missouri are being urged to let their U.S. senators and a House member know that they could harm the local economy and weaken general aviation in the state by helping the city of St. Clair close its federally funded GA airport.
Since 2008, AOPA has actively opposed the city’s efforts to close St. Clair Regional Airport and sell the land to private investors. The municipality’s actions to erode the airport’s viability have included failing to maintain its facilities despite receiving considerable federal airport improvement grant funding for land acquisition and runway resurfacing.
In a new bid to sway FAA opinion against the airport, Mayor Ron Blum and other city officials have pressed Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer to bring the FAA to the table to discuss expediting approval for closing the airport, AOPA has learned.
Blum and staff members of the elected officials were expected to attend the meeting that was scheduled for the week of March 26 to discuss shuttering the airport in a city that boasts the motto, “We’re open for business.”
“AOPA has been and still is strongly opposed to closing this airport and has made that position known to the FAA and the city of St. Clair,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airport advocacy.
“The decision rests with the FAA, and the FAA should be allowed to carry their statutory responsibilities and enforce grant assurances without outside interference,” Dunn said.
AOPA recently alerted Missouri members that they should contact the offices of McCaskill, Blunt, and Luetkemeyer to request that they oppose efforts to close the airport—which despite the considerable investment of public funds has been targeted by private interests and their political allies for five years.
AOPA’s alert to members was the latest in a series of measures dedicated to defending the airport.
“We have previously met on numerous occasions with officials of the state and FAA; written to the city opposing closure; and most recently, wrote to the associate administrator of airports at the FAA, reiterating our opposition to closure of this federally obligated airport,” Dunn said.
The movement to exempt thousands of general aviation pilots from the third class medical certification process is gaining momentum in Congress and the aviation community.
The recent warrantless stops and searches of law-abiding pilots on general aviation flights have drawn the attention of mainstream media.
The National Aeronautic Association has awarded the Collier Trophy for “the first unmanned, autonomous air system operating from an aircraft carrier.”
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