Privately owned, public-use airports in Maryland are now eligible for state grants and loans, Governor Parris Glendening told the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association on July 20. The governor recently signed Senate Bill 49, an AOPA-supported bill extending state funding to those airports.
The action is expected to help preserve many general aviation airports in Maryland.
Nationally, privately owned, public-use general aviation airports are being lost at the rate of more than one every two weeks. Difficulty in financing repairs or improvements has been cited as a major reason for the closings, which erode the nation's formerly extensive network of GA airports. In the past 20 years, 721 of the 806 closed public-use airports were privately owned.
In Maryland, more than 13 percent of the state's 136 public-use airports are privately owned.
In arguing for passage of Senate Bill 49, AOPA pointed to a 1990 Maryland Aviation Administration study that showed activities at Maryland's general aviation airports helped contribute over $177 million in annual economic activity, generated over $21 million in taxes, and provided more than 2,700 jobs.
"This is a major victory for GA," said AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Bill Dunn. "Maryland legislators obviously listened to AOPA's airport mantra: One mile of highway takes you one mile, but one mile of runway takes you anywhere!"
In notifying AOPA of the legislation's success, Glendening noted the importance of GA airports to Maryland, saying, "I am optimistic that this change will help promote the development of a statewide system of airports and airport facilities that will benefit all Marylanders."
The Maryland governor also thanked AOPA for assistance in winning approval for the bill, which will allow administration of the grants and loans through the Maryland Aviation Administration.
MAA Director of Regional Aviation Assistance Bruce Mundie added that his office anticipates making grants and loans of up to 100 percent of approved projects at some privately owned, public-use airports.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization with more than 360,000 members, including more than 6,600 Maryland pilots.
In October 1997 AOPA launched the Airport Support Network, which designates one AOPA member at target airports as the "eyes and ears" of the association. The volunteers help organize support groups for their airport and report threatened restrictions or efforts to close the airport to AOPA.
July 28, 2000