The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers are fighting developments and restrictions that threaten local airports. The association is supporting local pilot groups and others resisting development proposals around airports that would violate laws, regulations, or agreements that prohibit land use incompatible with the safety and facility of airport operations.
Most recently, AOPA has lodged formal protests with local authorities considering housing and other development proposals in proximity to airports at Kenosha, Wis., Chico, Calif., and McCall, Idaho.
In the case of Kenosha Regional Airport, AOPA told Mayor John Antarmian that a proposed golf course and residences just off the approach end of runways 06R and 06L would violate the airport sponsor's agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, under which the airport received federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding. It would also violate the city's own Zoning Ordinance 13.0, which was designed to ensure a compatible relationship between airport operations and land use within three miles of the airport boundary.
In California, AOPA took issue with a proposed rezoning to accommodate a projected development that would intrude on the Chico airport's overflight protection zones. AOPA told the Butte County Board of Supervisors that "any residential development that is permitted on this site could have a serious adverse effect on the operation of the airport."
The projected development near the McCall airport involves a number of complex land-use and noise environment issues. AOPA told the city planning director that the city "has the obligation to protect the airport from non-compatible land use and, therefore, must make an informed decision as to what impact approval of any development may have on the airport in future years." AOPA was particularly concerned about noise complaints from future residents allowed to build too close to the airport.
AOPA works closely with state aviation organizations as well as the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that any development proposal approved locally will not have a negative impact on airport operations.
A vital element in AOPA's airport vigilance is the association's Airport Support Network (ASN), which now has some 900 ASN volunteers at key general aviation airports across the country. AOPA members who serve as ASN volunteers keep in touch with airport management, local pilot organizations, and airport support groups, advising AOPA of potential problems in preservation of the airport and its freedom of operation.
Thus AOPA can bring its wide experience to bear in efforts to avoid conflict and improve understanding between the airport and the community. AOPA's intervention at Chico and McCall was the result of alert observation by ASN volunteers at those airports.
AOPA represents the general aviation interests of its 370,000 members, more than half of all U.S. pilots, and by extension, the interests of the entire general aviation community. Its primary concerns are aviation safety in all its aspects and promotion of the utility and enjoyment of non-airline flying.