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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February 28, 2012 Airports are for people who don't fly

The Liberty Gazette
February 28, 2012
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: A mile of highway will take you a mile, but a mile of runway can take you just about anywhere. We’re seeing improvements at the Liberty Airport which is exciting given where we were just five years ago when it was a struggle for some to realize what a gem of an asset we have here, and how underutilized it's been. It is no small matter that City Manager Gary Broz has some experience with airports and understanding of their value. As with any industry, there's no shortage of outsiders, who without knowledge of the industry will criticize, manipulate, demonize, or even attempt to sabotage. We've said it before and despite naysayers, people who only contribute for their own glory, or politicians who once thought they could quietly “get rid of it,” we'll continue to wave the banner for this little airport in Liberty, because it’s an asset that exists to serve the community: Airports are for people who don't fly.
Mike: Why is the Liberty Airport such an important asset? Its importance is found locally, statewide, and nationally. Although our airport does not serve commercial airlines, we do not live in a bubble. Just imagine our highway system. Consider all the on-off ramps taking travelers from the main arteries for transportation to their final destinations. What if there were no on-off ramps? What if interstate highways only allowed access to major hubs? Our ground travel would then be limited to places such as Dallas, Chicago, L.A., and New York. Imagine the traffic jams if there were only these few off-ramps that all traffic must use. Now consider a national emergency of any sort and these being the only ways to get needed supplies and personnel to the scene. Help might be a long time in coming, if ever. This is what would happen if we similarly limited out national airspace system.

Our airport is considered by the FAA as a critical member of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, or NPIAS, a 10-year plan continually updated and published by the FAA, listing public use airports and their development programs. The needs identified in the System Plan are considered to be in the national interest, and are classified as significant to the country. The FAA’s long list of objectives includes that airports in the system “should support national objectives for defense, emergency readiness, and postal delivery,” and should provide as many people as possible with convenient access to air transportation, “typically not more than 20 miles travel to the nearest NPIAS airport” and that the entire airport system “should help air transportation contribute to a productive national economy and international competitiveness.”

Linda: The Post Office and two world wars built our nation’s airports, and with today’s fast-moving society we need more, not fewer community airports. We need more access to areas beyond those few major cities, because most of the population lives outside those congested places. This is vital to understanding why our airport’s single runway is important on a national scale. It allows us access to a world that would otherwise restrict us from economic growth and vital time-sensitive services. So when you hear us say, “Airports are for people who don’t fly,” as my sister’s Pa-in-law says, “Pay attention!”

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