|Phil Boyer and S24 ASN volunteer Mark Reineck|
AOPA President Phil Boyer honored the first new general aviation airport dedicated in the new millennium. Boyer was the featured speaker at the weekend dedication of the new Sandusky County Regional Airport (S24) in north-central Ohio, the first new airport built in the state in 30 years.
"It's almost impossible to build a new airport these days," Boyer told the crowd. "From my travels across the country, I can tell you that many communities would give their right arms for an airport like this."
Boyer said that general aviation airports are closing at the rate of almost one a week, most of them privately owned. "It's hard to understand the logic in this," Boyer said. "No community would think of closing the off-ramp to their community from the highway that passes by, but they often close airports, which cuts them off from the national air transportation system."
He noted the benefits of a GA airport to a community. Every dollar spent by aviation generates an additional $1.52 in local economic activity. For every job at the airport, three jobs are created in the visitor-related economy. A good GA airport is often the critical element in attracting new businesses to a community. The new Sandusky airport is predicted to have a $50 million impact on investment and new jobs in the area.
In fact, the airport was so important to local businesses that they contributed some $400,000 toward its construction. Construction of the $8 million facility began in 1997, after a battle of more than 10 years to overcome some local opposition and to secure federal funding. Federal Airport Improvement Program funds paid for 90 percent of the airport, while the state of Ohio contributed 5 percent.
The new airport is the only publicly owned airport in the county, and that should ensure the area will have the benefits of an airport for a long time. It has a 5,500-foot runway with GPS approaches, making it ideally suited to the needs of today's corporate aircraft. The airport is vitally important to Whirlpool Corporation, which employs some 3,000 at its nearby manufacturing plant. The company relies on the airport for quick transportation of company executives, engineers, technicians, equipment, and supplies necessary to keep the factory running.
Boyer also offered special recognition to Mark Reineck, AOPA's Airport Support Network volunteer for the airport.
June 12, 2000