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Once-threatened airport now blossoming

In 2003, Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg, Fla., was in jeopardy of being closed, demolished, and replaced with high-rise condos. Now it's a much more vibrant waterfront airport. Recognized as a community asset, it's undergoing many expansion projects.

"This is a classic example of a success story that will happen when pilots work together and work consistently to protect their airports," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports. "This is the outcome that we strive for in cases of threatened airports."

Local involvement can make the difference.

Four years ago, the airport's downtown location made it attractive to developers who were eying the property for parks and high-rise buildings. Through the tireless efforts of AOPA, Albert Whitted AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Jack Tunstill, and local aviation groups, the community learned about the benefits of the airport.

Residents then voted on multiple-ballot measures in favor of keeping the airport operating in perpetuity as a vital part of our national air transportation system. After the results of the 2003 election, Mayor Rick Baker proclaimed, "the voters have spoken," and resolved to make the airport a showcase.

Now Albert Whitted is growing. Home to nearly 200 airplanes, the airport's new terminal building is nearing completion. Other projects include new helicopter and airplane parking areas for transient and local aircraft.

July 18, 2007

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