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AOPA fighting to save endangered airportAOPA fighting to save endangered airport

<BR><SPAN class=twodeck>Indiana general aviation reliever airport under attack</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=twodeck>Indiana general aviation reliever airport under attack</SPAN>

Smith Field, Fort Wayne's general aviation airport, is in danger of being closed. One hundred community members and pilots met earlier this week at a public hearing to address the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority to offer proposals that will keep the airport open. The airport authority, after listening to a representative from AOPA headquarters and many speakers from the local community, delayed its decision to close the airport, promising to consider the proposals from individuals and groups. The panel will announce its decision within a month as to whether or not to keep Smith Field open.

The endangered airport faces problems, including a decline in operations. Residential development is encroaching on the airport, and the airport sponsor has not pursued federal funding. Despite these troubles, the airport still manages to contribute more than $417,800 per year in economic impact to the area.

Keith Holt, AOPA manager of airport policy, pointed out in Monday evening's meeting that the airport is entitled to apply for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds, including $150,000 in general aviation entitlement money. The authority has yet to take advantage of the AIP funds for Smith Field. AOPA has offered to work with the airport authority and the users, including the 50 based airplane owners, and review all possible alternatives to closing the airport. The local pilots of Smith Field and AOPA will continue the fight to save this historic and vital airport before time runs out.

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