formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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June 26, 2007 Introductory article

Liberty Gazette
June 26, 2007
(Introductory article)
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Welcome to The View From Up Here, report and commentary from our corner of the sky, over Liberty County, Texas.

If life’s adventures haven’t taken you into the world of General Aviation it isn’t because General Aviation has no impact on your life. Two public airports serve Liberty County, one in Cleveland and one in Liberty. In coming issues we will examine each of these airports in more detail, and others in comparison.

Loosely described as “everything other than military or scheduled airlines”, General Aviation is vital to our American way of life. Small planes and business jets not only provide transportation of goods and people, but make a significant contribution to the economy as well.

General Aviation serves the public interest through disaster relief, wildlife management, Civil Air Patrol, border patrol, drug enforcement and other police activity. Aerial fire fighting, Angel Flights, air ambulance service, blood and organ transport, and other medical aviation programs directly affect the lives of many people, especially in Texas, where commercial airlines are unable to reach rural communities. Our country’s community airports provide a base for search-and-rescue operations.

Any time disaster hits, small airports play a big role in accessing the areas, rescuing victims, bringing supplies, and assessing the damage. Liberty County airports were instrumental during the response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Rescue workers and volunteers were able to get supplies into affected areas quickly using rural airports.

Small business is supported by General Aviation in such sectors as mail and freight delivery, aerial photography, land surveying, agricultural spraying, pipeline monitoring, and traffic helicopters. Ever wanted to learn to fly? Flight schools offer a ticket to the sky to recreational pilots and provide a feeder system for future airline pilots. For entertainment, General Aviation’s contributions include sightseeing flights, skydiving, aerobatics and air shows. General Aviation means education, employment, and economic development, and small community airports are essential for these activities to continue.

So naturally, business leaders, city and county officials, and concerned citizens want to know the economic impact of General Aviation airports. The Texas Department of Transportation Aviation Division publishes the results of their extensive economic impact study which shows total output attributed to the existence of each airport in our state. In addition to the flow of money into local economies, airports can impact communities in other ways. Many companies looking for places to do business tend to search for communities that have airports, raising the potential for employment, and enhancing the quality of life, and the health and welfare of citizens. The current published economic impact of our two Liberty County airports combined is $1,102,000, with Cleveland bringing $883,000 into the community and Liberty Municipal adding another $219,000. But there is plenty of room for improvement.

Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association says, “All Americans benefit from the nation's airport system,” including airports such as ours in Liberty County. “[L]ocal airports serve a critical role for towns…and are local economic engines, bringing people and goods from communities to national and global markets, stimulating local economic growth.” Mr. Bolen reports that “[T]he business aviation community uses general aviation aircraft…made up mostly of small and mid-size businesses that often fly piston-engine and turboprop planes to maximize the efficiency and productivity of their employees. The activity generated by flights through these airports helps generate billions of dollars of U.S. economic output annually, and employs more than one million people nationwide.” –

General Aviation is important to the heart beat of America. We invite you explore the adventures of aviation as we bring you stories of local pilots and exciting air adventures, what’s happening at your local airports, history and the outlook of General Aviation in Liberty County.

GA quick facts
General Aviation supports 1.3 million jobs and more than $102 billion of total economic activity in the United States annually. As a result, the jobs supporting General Aviation are found all across America.

More than 20,000 airports and heliports grace America’s landscape. Since the airlines only serve 540 of these airports (less than 3 percent), General Aviation airports are a crucial component of the national airport system.

Each year, 166 million passengers, including many from our community, fly on the small airplanes of General Aviation. That makes the 211,000 airplanes of General Aviation the nation's largest "airline." That's more passengers than American Airlines, United Air Lines, and Northwest Airlines combined.
By using small aircraft and small local airports, tens of thousands of cancer patients, burn victims, and sick or injured children have been able to fly for free to world-class medical centers in major cities, even when these patients live hundreds of miles away in rural communities.

Source: GA Serving America Web site;
Mike Ely is president of Ely Aviation Consulting, LLC. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot license and has been flying for 33 years. Mr. Ely has been a flight instructor, training beginners to corporate jet captains. With thousands of international flight hours logged, Mr. Ely was the chief pilot and manager of a corporate flight department for several years. He flies for business and pleasure; qualified in several jet aircraft he also holds ratings in gliders and seaplanes. He is a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the National Business Aviation Association.
Linda Street-Ely holds a private pilot license and has been flying for two years. She serves on the Airport Advisory Committee to the City of Liberty and is the Airport Support Network Volunteer assigned by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for the Liberty Airport.
Mike and Linda can be reached at

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