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Keep track of flights

September 27, 2012
The Leader Herald

The Fulton County Airport off Route 67 in the town of Johnstown was opened in the late 1980s to help attract business to the area.

The county spends an average of $10,000 a year to maintain its airport - not a huge amount by today's standards - and has received $5.9 million in federal funds from 16 grants since then.

The county doesn't keep track of flights in and out of the airport, said county Planning Director James Mraz. He said Federal Aviation Administration data from 2009 that estimates 9,700 annual takeoffs and landings, published in USA Today, were just "a guess" by someone associated with the airport.

A small airport such as this one is an asset to the community for many reasons, including:

Easy access for business fliers.

Use by private pilots and training of people who want to become pilots.

Having air access in case of natural disasters, war or terrorist attacks - none of which is in the realm of the unthinkable.

Abundant open space that can be, has been and should be used for community events.

The opportunity for young people to develop an interest in aviation through contact with the airport. What great physics and history lessons an airplane embodies - from the Wright brothers to Jimmy Doolittle's 30 seconds over Tokyo to today's super-high-tech fighters.

While the airport doesn't cost the county much, knowing how many flights occur - especially business-related flights - and who uses the airport would be a common-sense way of showing the taxpayers what they're getting for their money and tracking how much business traffic the airport actually receives. Plans to convert the former Tryon campus near the airport to a business park makes such tracking even more reasonable.

Over the years, the airport has been host to such events as circuses, fireworks and craft fairs. The county should do more to promote this space for use by the community that pays for it.

At a time of tight budgets, a small local airport should sell itself - just like any other service.



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