May 2, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
Since 1929, the Kalispell (Mont.) City Airport has been a resource for pilots, a fixture in the community, and a regional economic asset. On May 7, pilots can show their support for the facility by participating in a city council public hearing on updating the airport master plan.
The city council is scheduled to vote on accepting the master plan update May 21, culminating a process initiated when the city accepted an FAA planning grant for the study in July 2010.
“The preparation of this master plan update is evidence that the City of Kalispell recognizes the importance of air transportation to the community and the associated challenges inherent in providing for its unique operating and improvement needs,” says the master plan’s introduction. “The cost of maintaining an airport is an investment which yields impressive benefits to the community and the region.”
Kalispell’s AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Scott Richardson urged pilots to attend the hearing and show their support for the airport’s continued development—a vision of which is outlined in the master plan’s recommended development alternative.
“This airport is very important to our area both in terms of the resource it provides our local and transient pilot community, but it also has a significant economic impact to the south side of Kalispell,” he said. “Kalispell airport is one of those quaint beautiful airports for which Montana is known so well, and it is one of the few that is within walking distance of many of our local eateries and hotels.”
Richardson cautioned pilots not to take the future for granted. In 2010, when a community faction questioned the airport’s role, AOPA sought and received assurances from city officials that their support for the facility—and its present location—remained strong.
“I believe it to be in our best interest to show the city council how important the airport is, how often you use it, and that your visits support our community,” Richardson said, appealing for pilots’ support. Pilots can send Richardson an email for more information.
The public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. on May 7 at Kalispell City Hall. Pilots may also email comments to the Kalispell City Council.
Several local vendors have provided discount goods and services to reduce the impact on pilots’ wallets of coming to Kalispell, Mont., to support the airport at a May 7 public hearing on updating the airport’s master plan.
Red Eagle Aviation (406/755-2376) will offer discount fuel at $5.53 per gallon. Please pay inside during regular business hours. The Aero Inn (406/755-3798) will offer room rates about $41 per night; ask for the pilot discount. The Hilton Garden Inn (406/756-4500) offers room rates discounted from $149 to $93. Please ask for the Red Eagle discount. Los Caporales offers Mexican food at a 10-percent discount. Scotty’s will offer hand-cut steaks starting at $12.95.
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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