For most pilots, setting an official speed record would be a lofty enough goal in itself. But for Michael Nau and his father Dennis, that was only part of the plan. The two pilots decided to attempt a speed record between Blaine Municipal and Vista Field in Washington to draw attention to plans to close both general aviation airports.
AOPA has been involved with local pilots at both airports as they have attempted to save their fields. At Blaine Municipal, the Washington Pilots Association (WPA) and AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Martin Ranck have worked closely with AOPA in attempts to persuade the city to keep the airport operating. AOPA also petitioned Washington State to exercise its authority to enforce state grant requirements and keep the field open. But, with no federal grant obligations, there was little leverage available to airport advocates. Blaine is scheduled to close Dec. 31 and the land to be sold and redeveloped for nonaviation purposes.
At Vista, local pilots asked the Port of Kennewick, which owns Vista Field, to refrain from determining the airport’s future until the Washington state long-term air transportation study has been completed, likely in July 2009. AOPA will continue to work with AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Marjy Leggett and WPA to ensure the airport remains open.
“The dedication of the pilots at both Blaine and Vista is a testament to the vibrancy of general aviation,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airports. “We will continue to work side-by-side with pilots to protect community airports like these.”
According to the National Aeronautic Association, which certifies record attempts in the United States, the Naus made their flight in 1 hour, 54 minutes, averaging 132.58 miles per hour in a Cessna 172. This record for “Speed Over a Recognized Course” represents the fastest speed of any piston engine landplane weighing between 1,102 and 2,205 pounds over the route.