Let it be me
July 1, 2018
We are fortunate to have a wonderful airport system in Minnesota, thanks to a number of key organizations. Let’s face it, our airports didn’t just happen. I am concerned we take for granted what it takes to “make” an airport.
Most of our airports started out as “airfields”, which pretty much consisted of an open area out away from farmhouses and other buildings so as to minimize obstructions. With time came the realization that creating hard surfaces offers some distinct advantages to the pilot who would enjoy the lack of mud or snow when facing less than optimal meteorological conditions. Paving runways require planning, and money. The arguments were successfully made to local, state and federal governments that improving and building airports significantly improve local economies and aid in transporting critically ill patients, amongst other things. Monies were appropriated, not only to build and improve the airport, but also to maintain the improved airports.
It became desirable to establish safe approaches to our airports and our federal government. The FAA became involved to insure safe flight and instrument approaches were borne, so that we can be airborne in less than CAVU days, or nights. Entities such as MNDOT became involved to make sure certain ground safety conditions are met.
All of this takes money. We are fortunate enough to have that burden shouldered by taxpayers like you and me. Sure, I grumble about taxes, and while I think we are overtaxed, I also understand part of my taxes go towards not only keeping our government running, but also to fund infrastructures we, as pilots, have come to depend upon.
We need to be good stewards of our personal resources, but so, too, do our cities and local governments who accept federal and state funding with open arms. When this fails to happen, as it apparently has failed at the Silver Bay airport, we should hold our local (elected) officials accountable for potentially squandering those funds.
I think it needs to become even more personal than holding our officials accountable. Did you know the reason all airports are being scrutinized via tools like hangar inspections and the like is that federal funding can be significantly reduced if sufficient non-aviation findings are found? This is not even to mention the fact that taxation for our hangars is at a different level than what we pay for our homes or businesses. If funding is negatively impacted because some of us use our hangars for non-aviation purposes, we will find fewer services, less funding of projects, etc. This isn’t MAC or our local authorities who made the rules. It is our own government. We need to take our own pulse, as it were, to make sure that we are not fraudulent in how we use our airports. The burden falls on each of us to be circumspect in how we deal with this. Airports are important to us. We need to keep them open and flourishing.