Local pilots have rallied fellow residents in Newport, New Hampshire, in an effort to preserve Parlin Field, which faces a May 12 town vote on its future. The potential consequences of that vote could have been much more severe had Parlin Field backers not packed a recent meeting to support their local airport.
During that session, according to the airport newsletter, the language of the ballot question pertaining to the airport was modified to offer alternatives to a simple up or down vote on selling the airport, “thanks to the actions of Mary Schissel, a North Newport resident.” Voters will instead decide whether or not to explore alternatives, including retaining, leasing, or selling the airport.
Supporters also created a website highlighting the airport’s appeal as a cozy place to land and eat close to popular vacation destination Lake Sunapee, and documenting the airport’s operating budget as well as the volunteer labor and income generated from leases and fuel sales that have dramatically reduced the airport’s cost to town residents in recent years. Local jobs created or supported by the airport, the charitable activities of local pilots, military training, and visitor arrivals to the region are listed on the website.
AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins said the action taken to date by local supporters has had a significant effect: It removed the potential of a town vote to proceed directly to sale, created an opportunity for a conversation, and provided more time to educate those residents who may be unaware of the airport’s many benefits to the community.
“They did a great job, and we can use them as a model for supporting other community airports,” Collins said of Parlin Field’s local advocates, noting that the airport’s value extends far beyond Newport. “I know a lot of folks from Southern Maine or Massachusetts who like to fly up there for various events. That’s people spending money in the community.”
The newsletter notes that the May 9 Wings and Wheels event at the airport will feature “BBQ chicken, hot rods, classic airplanes and low fuel prices – what a great way to kick off the 2015 flying season!” The event, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature an iPad raffle (bring an item for the Newport Food Pantry to enter), and the first 50 local residents (voters) will be given a Parlin Field T-shirt—otherwise available for purchase, with proceeds from each $15 shirt split between Parlin Field and the Newport Rotary.
AOPA members in the region also will want to check the Parlin Field online calendar for additional planned events and news, including the International Comanche Society Fly-In on June 13. Collins plans to attend the May 19 meeting of the airport advisory board, at which point detailed plans can be made to respond to the town vote as necessary.