AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Graeme Smith traced the outline of Newport State Airport’s runways in chalk, creating on the ramp a scale version of a pilot’s-eye view—all part of a mission to help the community of Newport, Rhode Island, gain a new perspective on their local asset.
The airport helps Newport remain a world-class leisure destination, drawing visitors for legendary sailing, Gilded Age mansions, art, music, shopping, dining, and beaches. Those attractions help explain why the airport supports 78 local jobs and generates more than $500,000 in direct revenue for the state, along with more than $12 million in annual economic output, according to a 2016 state study. The airport is home to an eclectic mix of aircraft and hosts helicopter tours, skydiving, flight training, and more than a few corporate jets that share ramp space with Piper Archers and Cessna 150s—and, on June 16, a pair of North American T–6 Texans.
Heather Corson, who owns the local flight school Newport Aviation and offers some of the more scenic discovery flights going, coordinated the efforts of Smith and fellow volunteers eager to help tell a story about a jewel of an airport that does far more than make noise, though a few in town pay more attention to that than the dollars and visitors that flow in through the two runways. The overall strategy is one that AOPA encourages across the country: Give the local community a chance see airplanes and aviators up close, and perhaps even join their ranks.
“We absolutely love it when airport management, staff, and businesses on the field take a proactive approach like this,” Collins said. “People had a great time. A few peeks in a few cockpits can go a long way toward building the kind of relationships and appreciation that help us all."