April 27, 2012
By: Jeanne Houck
BLUE ASH – – Dylan Consbruck of Symmes Township was by no means the only pilot who asked the Blue Ash City Council to help save the Blue Ash Airport April 26, but he was certainly the youngest.
The 17-year-old Sycamore High School sophomore, dressed in his Civil Air Patrol cadet program uniform, stepped smartly to the microphone in the standing-room only city council meeting and said he has witnessed the vital role small, general aviation airports like the Blue Ash Airport play in the patrol’s search-and-rescue missions – and in igniting the pilot’s light in the hearts of young people.
“Because of the Blue Ash Airport, I am on my way to achieving one of my dreams that will hopefully lead me to the Air Force Academy or a career in commercial aviation,” said Consbruck, a second lieutenant who is earning his pilot’s license at the airport.
“If there is any way the Blue Ash City Council can be proactive in the preservation of the Blue Ash Airport, I know not only I will be grateful, but the general aviation community, the Civil Air Patrol and most importantly the citizens of Blue Ash would greatly benefit from your efforts.”
Pilots who packed the Blue Ash City Council meeting – many of them business people – said they know exactly what the city can do to proactively preserve the airport on Glendale-Milford Road, which Cincinnati, the owner, announced in March it is closing.
The “Save the Blue Ash Airport Committee” of the Flying Neutrons, a flying club based at the airport, said Blue Ash should:
• Buy the 98 acres that Cincinnati owns at the airport, which hold the airport facilities, and keep the airport open. Blue Ash already owns 130 acres at the airport, which it bought from Cincinnati and where it is building a public park.
• Lease property for airport operations to a private-sector entity that would manage airport functions and build a travel center there, with Blue Ash building access to the leased airport property off of the public park’s access to Plainfield Road.
• Work with the Federal Aviation Administration to win grants to resurface the runway, then to relocate taxiway access to the property to be leased for airport operations and – along with the future airport manager – develop a long-range strategy for the airport.
Blue Ash City Council did not comment or take action after the pilots’ presentation or after another 17 people spoke in support of it.
Cincinnati says it is closing the Blue Ash Airport because earlier plans to reconfigure and operate it were becoming increasingly financially unfeasible.
Blue Ash recently declined its right to make a first offer for the same reasons. Blue Ash Mayor Mark Weber estimated it would cost $35 million to buy and refurbish the airport.
The “Save the Blue Ash Airport Committee” said the airport could be transformed into a successful business enterprise for far less than that, with the help of private investment, lease agreements, fuel sales and untapped Federal Aviation Administration grants.
Blue Ash can negotiate a highly favorable sale price, the committee said, because of “AIR 21,” a federal law exception that would allow Cincinnati to use proceeds from the sale of the airport property now on the block and from the $37.5 million sale of the property Blue Ash bought in 2007 for a public park, any way it wants, the committee said.
If Cincinnati sells the property to an entity other than Blue Ash, the committee said, it must spend the money on aviation purposes. Cincinnati also owns Lunken Airport in the East End.
Ralph Hill, manager of the Greenwood, Ind., Municipal Airport, presented his airport as a model April 26 for what the Blue Ash Airport could be if Blue Ash buys it.
“If you do not take this opportunity, you are at least inhibiting the future of the city, if not sabotaging it,” Hill told Blue Ash City Council.