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Rhode Island's airport volunteers plan strategyRhode Island's airport volunteers plan strategy

AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins traveled to Rhode Island to tour state airports, weigh in on an obstacle-clearance dispute that could affect safety at one general aviation airport, and bring the state’s team of AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers together to map out their advocacy priorities for GA in 2018 and beyond.

Collins met with the Rhode Island Airport Corp. at its headquarters at Theodore Francis Green State Airport in Providence on a dispute over the removal of obstacles on approaches to Westerly State Airport, a project that the state agency supports, but which is blocked by a court order.

Failure to clear tree growth from several parcels of private property on three of the airport’s four approaches by eminent domain—a project opposed by some property owners—could result in the permanent displacement of runway thresholds with implications for flight safety and a severe curtailment of the airport’s usefulness, Collins said.

The state agency and the Westerly Town Board have reaffirmed their intention to avoid permanent runway-threshold displacements in Westerly, and the state board plans to seek reversal of the injunction, he said.

AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins (standing, right) joined Rhode Island Airport Support Network volunteers Bill Weedon (Quonset State Airport) Henry Dupont (Block Island State Airport) Dean Morrone (Westerly State Airport), and Graeme Smith (Newport State Airport) to discuss issues facing Rhode Island airports.

The volunteers of AOPA’s Airport Support Network are the key human resource for pinpointing the special issues, challenges, and opportunities facing airports at the local level. There are currently five Airport Support Network volunteers in Rhode Island, four of whom attended the Feb. 1 meeting in Warwick, where they discussed issues including forming an advocacy group to address GA issues with state and local policymakers.

“AOPA continues efforts to strengthen the Airport Support Network to improve communication and better utilize this ‘human resource’ to further initiatives to preserve airports and promote general aviation,” Collins said.

He urged AOPA members in other states to consider volunteering to serve as “general aviation’s crucial human resource for taking action on your local airport community’s most important concerns.”

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Airport Advocacy, Obstruction Hazards

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