AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Christopher Andrews received the AOPA Award of Excellence from AOPA President Phil Boyer August 29 for his work in forcing Des Moines International Airport (DSM) officials to recognize the needs of general aviation.
The award was presented to Andrews to loud applause from some 200 of his fellow pilots who attended the AOPA Des Moines Pilot Town Meeting. Andrews is the first-ever recipient of the AOPA Award of Excellence, given to AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers who demonstrate "extraordinary commitment" in efforts to build support for local airports.
Andrews discovered last fall that DSM airport officials were more interested in the growth of large cargo operations than in general aviation operations. Among other things, officials had planned permanent closure of Runway 13R/31L, which last year handled some 44,000 operations, most of them general aviation. Andrews reported the issue to AOPA and is continuing to provide research, rally local pilots, arrange local media attention, and work with local politicians.
He also is forming a support group to help protect GA interests at DSM. The AOPA Airport Support Network was launched in 1997 to develop a network of volunteer AOPA members who watch for possible threats to their airport and build community support for the airport. More than 800 volunteers have now been appointed nationwide.
August 30, 2000