LETTERS: Properly utilized airport an asset

Thomas Pecht displays a lack of understanding in his letter (“Airport should have a for sale sign on it,” June 7, 6A). As a corporate pilot (based at another airport) I know the passengers have these airplanes to increase the effectiveness of their time spent away from their families, generating revenue for more jobs for employees, and profits for investors.

Pecht writes: “Easily fly over to Peachtree DeKalb, and rent a car?” Have you made that drive after 4:00 p.m.?

Easy access to a good airport is a vital component when any well-run company decides on a location for a new facility. BMW built it’s South Carolinia plant where it did specifically because of the Greenville-Spartanburg airport.

When Mr. Pecht says that the airport is an “expensive private country club” he is ignoring the fact that he can book a flying lesson there today. Hardly private.

When I had a light plane based at Brisco Field, I paid a great deal of taxes to Gwinnett County each year. The sales taxes paid on each gallon of fuel bought at the airport benefits the county. The taxes paid by my hangar’s landlord benefit the county. The taxes paid by the hundreds of employees at the airport benefit the county. The sales taxes paid by the customers at “The Flying Machine” restaurant benefit the county.

Should a Gwinnett citizen need the protection of a police helicopter, it will launch from Briscoe Field. When a member of our families needs bloodwork for a critical health condition, the sample will go to the lab in a light plane.

Properly utilized, a county airport is a vital asset that more than supports itself.

— Gordon Clement



BufordToo 3 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Clement - Thank you for your insight into the merits of the airport as it stands today. The problem is that long-term, the County cannot support underwriting the facility unless a few things are agreed to by the BOC: 1) commercial aviation; 2) development of a customs facility, 3) runway expansion to attract larger corporate aircraft, 4) corporate hangars are built to accommodate those corporate jets and 5) the airports infrastructure needs are brought up to 21st Century standards.

Taxes (both fuel and property) paid by private pilots are not going to move the "needle" over the long-term. The restaurant, while nice, doesn't flip enough hamburgers to generate enough tax revenue to light the runway lights for one night, especially the "rabbit lights" at less then minimums. And the police helicopter division may be one of the biggest tax burdens to the public. If you total up the number of hours in the air versus the cost to maintain (all in), I doubt the benefits outweigh the costs. And long-term, police departments will be using less expensive to maintain and safer drones to patrol the skies! Plus, a helipad facility doesn't require a 5,000 foot runway!

Consequently, if the BOC doesn't do something now along the lines outline in paragraph ONE, the 25 year outlook isn't all that great. And please don't tell me about "flying lessons" as the number of GA pilots is on the downswing other than the foreign students training for their commercial at the airfield. One more item, please don't tell me about the impact of Guest and ATP as those two companies could leave tomorrow for a better deal elsewhere.


Sign in to comment