January 3, 2013
AOPA Government Affairs staff
The FAA has provided the Missouri aviation community a post-Christmas gift: a Dec. 28 letter to officials in St. Clair, Mo., that puts on hold the city’s five-year effort to kill its regional airport.
St. Clair and its mayor, Ron Blum, have waged an aggressive campaign to close St. Clair Regional Airport. Blum has sought assistance from members of Congress as well as Missouri state legislators. At the same time, tenants have been squeezed with higher hangar rental rates while the city refused to maintain the facilities. Grass has been left unmowed, taxiways unswept, hangars unmaintained, and burned-out runway lights left unfixed.
AOPA and local pilots fought back, opposing the city’s efforts since 2008.
In its latest letter to the city, the FAA notified it that the request for closure is on hold until the city lives up to its obligations under federal grant assurances and resolves formal and informal complaints brought against the city by local pilots.
“This is an excellent turn of events,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president for airport advocacy. “The city has been trying to circumvent the federal process and completely ignore their contractual obligations to the FAA.”
The airport, situated immediately adjacent to Interstate 44, could be a tremendous asset to the city if it would get behind it. Unfortunately, the city has received bad advice from the consultant it has retained to gain FAA approval for the closure, Dunn said.
AOPA will continue to work with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the FAA to ensure the airport remains open and assessable to the public.
Department of Transportation,
A father and his 14-year-old son were helping another pilot ferry a newly purchased aircraft from California to their home field in Virginia. The three made an overnight stop in Albuquerque before flying on to Illinois for fuel. But shortly after they parked the aircraft in Marion, Ill., they were approached by as many as 18 uniformed and non-uniformed law enforcement officers who came running toward the airplane.
The FAA has alerted AOPA to a spike in airspace penetration and violations of the Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area, particularly stemming from operations at Leesburg Executive Airport (JYO) in Leesburg, Va.
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