Wed, July 17

Airport members given unfair black eye by articles


The article written by Brandon Wilson and published in your April 20 edition lacks credibility in several areas.

The article refers to a meeting and states that "Butch" Wayne Hunt attended that meeting to discuss the planned auto and airplane show. He did not attend. Furthermore, neither did the reporter, Wilson.

Mr. Wilson apparently did not know that there was no previous communication between "Butch" and the affected parties at the airport, nor was there in past years, especially the owners of Aerobear, the aircraft service business that was expected to suspend operations while this show was in progress.

There are numerous quotes attributed to "Butch" with apparently no attempt to verify that the issues stated were accurate. Some were inflammatory to the degree that members of the airport community, those who have businesses and personal property where show events were to take place, were indicted because they were not committed to abandoning their business and leased areas to allow the general public to take over the facility and freely roam among the airplanes, hangars, shop and offices.

Aerobear Aviation Services, a small family business, was expected to vacate their operating shop areas and turn them over to be used as a food service area for breakfast and lunch. No offer was made to reimburse them for closing two days, or the use of their facilities.

Last year, the Skydiving business had to operate while there were pedestrians on and around the taxi areas.

Aircraft parked in spaces on the north end of the airport were expected (without notification) to vacate the areas that they lease from the city of Cottonwood so that cars could be parked in their spots. There was no notice to these owners that the event was going to displace them so if word of mouth didn't reach them in time, then Aerobear was expected to handle the moving at their own expense.

At the meeting, in the sprit of cooperation, an alternative was suggested in a more secure and manageable area of the airport to accommodate the car show. Additionally. assistance from the airport community was offered. This area would allow for parking as well as the use of side airport areas for concessions while not requiring airport operations be moved and or suspended.

The article points out that "Butch" rejected this idea. He was not in attendance when this was suggested. The Chamber of Commerce representative who was present at the meeting agreed with and expressed no opposition to the suggested relocation of the show on airport property.

Last year, the large concession stand that was erected to sell food remained in the middle of the maintenance operations area for approximately two weeks after the show closed despite telephone calls by the then chief flight instructor to the Chamber requesting its removal.

The chamber person who did attend the meeting, Donna Schmidt, was surprised to find that there was a locked gate at the entrance to the airport, which limits entry only to those with proper credentials. Security at airports is of a much higher concern since 9/11 and no previous discussion was attempted by show personnel to determine how this would affect the use of closed airport areas. She also alluded to the fact that interest in the last few years for the car show was waning.

The magnitude of the safety issue can be gleaned from Tim Costello's comments that he has seen the crowd parted while an aircraft was moved through. Being forewarned about a hazardous condition such as mixing pedestrians and airplanes poses an extreme liability for all concerned. Being forewarned about that liability exacerbates the situation.

Lastly Mr. Wilson quotes "Butch" as stating that there is a small bunch of people who don't want us up there. This is not true; it is a LARGE bunch of people who don't believe the airport is a reasonable car show venue without communication and consideration for public safety.

Aleck Gradijan, Jr.