Massachusetts DOT Officials Impressed During Three-Airport Visit

Photo above – Chris Willenborg, Westfield Airport Manager, begins the three-airport tour by briefing Massachusetts DOT officials.

More than a dozen top state DOT officials made a round-robin visit to three Massachusetts airports to get an up-close look at how the facilities are managed and the value they provide to the state’s citizens. The tour was coordinated by the MassDOT Aeronautics Division at the invitation of three MAMA-member airports.

MassDOT Aeronautics Administrator Dr. Jeffrey DeCarlo said, “There is no better way for us to educate and engage the very folks who are key to ensuring investments in our airport and aviation system. Based on the enthusiastic response and engagement from senior leaders, I believe they were blown away.”

Mass DOT officials learn about the mission of the National Guard unit based at Westfield.

The day-long tour began early with a visit to Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport (KBAF) and the proceeded to Westover Air Reserve Base/Metropolitan Airport (KCEF) and ended in the late afternoon at Southbridge Municipal Airport (3B0).

At Westfield, officials were able to witness military, general aviation and business aviation activities which included a visit to the Gulfstream facility as well as a stop at Westfield Tech and Western Mass Wright Flight. WMAWF is a non-profit, all volunteer, after school aviation STEM education program.

The group then proceeded to nearby Westover Airport for lunch at the Base Club and a walk through a C-5 Galaxy, the Air Force’s largest transport aircraft and a demonstration of the UMASS Aviation Center’s 360-degree, hi-fidelity, 3D simulator for airspace design and the training of air traffic controllers.

The day concluded with a visit to the smaller, but very busy, Southbridge Municipal Airport which is undergoing a major renovation including the replacement of the runway and associated taxiways and support facilities. There, officials witnessed demonstration flights of the Aeronautics Division’s unmanned and autonomous air systems and toured Southbridge’s new Administration Building, one of several secured through state funding.

Following the day-long tour, Massachusetts Airport Management Association (MAMA) President Matt Elia said, “These visits allowed MAMA member airports to show key MassDOT personnel the value that each airport provides to their community thanks in large part to the support of MassDOT Aeronautics. High-paying skilled workers are employed at each of the Commonwealth’s thirty-five public use airports which is one illustration of how strategic investment from MassDOT results in aviation-related opportunities for the community.”

The Massachusetts Airport Management Association (MAMA), now celebrating its 50th anniversary, is a member-based organization dedicated to promoting and advocating for a healthy Massachusetts aviation industry through its thirty-five public use airports.