June 20, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
Newly improved seaplane access is one more reason why Tacoma, Wash., can call itself a world class city, said local officials marking the opening of a new general aviation docking facility on a near-to-downtown waterway.
The Tacoma Waterfront Association and the Foss Waterway Development Authority officially opened the new floatplane dock at the mouth of the Thea Foss Waterway on June 5.
AOPA, with approximately 11,700 members in the state of Washington, had encouraged construction of the facility in a Dec. 30, 2011, letter to the development authority.
The new dock will improve seaplane pilots’ access to downtown Tacoma and surrounding areas in Pierce County, which had only one other dedicated seaplane dock, said David Ulane, AOPA Northwest/Mountain regional manager.
“This new facility amounts to recognition by public officials in the Tacoma area that general aviation, and specifically floatplane operations, are important to the economy and transportation system in the region,” he said.
Ulane credited support for the project from the Seaplane Pilots Association, the Washington Pilots Association, and the Columbia Seaplane Pilots Association as helping to move the initiative forward.
In a local news report, Tacoma Deputy Mayor Marty Campbell described the five-year, joint private/public dock project as an amenity that helps make Tacoma a world-class city. Another report described the dock as a transportation asset“long missing” from the city. In both reports, officials of seaplane air service company Kenmore Air cited new aviation opportunities resulting from the project.
The former industrial waterway, named for Thea Foss, founder of Foss Maritime, is re-emerging from a period of inactivity into what officials hope will become a source of regional economic opportunity
AOPA will continue to work with public agencies and partner associations across the country to advocate for improved general aviation facilities, Ulane said.
The management team running Chelton Flight Systems and S-Tec Corp. in Mineral Wells, Texas, for parent Cobham Avionics saw an opportunity and bought in.
Three-time national aerobatic champion Patty Wagstaff will speak July 29 at Build a Plane's 2014 Teachers' Day event during AirVenture.
Google buys Titan Aerospace, builder of high altitude solar-powered unmanned aerial systems.
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