Growing up, having easy access to airports was a given for me. I honestly believe having that access contributed directly to my passion for aviation. I think that same thing can be said for many of us baby boomers that love aviation.
There is, in this country, an increasing concern that the continued enhancement of security will lead to further and further restrictions to airport access and that will close the door for a large segment of potential new enthusiasts.
I am pleased that there are many airport administrations across the country that recognize this and have taken steps , some extraordinary, to do more than just accommodate the general public but to go to great lengths to make them feel welcome and to make them feel, that as part of the community, the airport belongs to them.
There are several examples in the Valley of the Sun, two that I’ve experienced recently in Mesa, Arizona – Falcon Field and Phoenix Mesa Gateway airport.
At Falcon, I was being given a tour by Airport Projects Supervisor Jeff Tripp, when he noticed a family at the fence line watching the planes. Mr. Tripp went out of his way to approach them and invite them to use a special viewing area that allows the public closer access to view the activities on the airport.
Phoenix Mesa Gateway built a grassy knoll (pictured above) for families to use as well as benches for folks to observe operations at their airport.
I know there are many other great examples out there, so do me a favor, if you have an airport manager that understands the responsibility to encourage and inspire future generations, take the initiative to let him or her know how much you appreciate that. If your airport doesn’t – let me know.