Op-Ed: City Should Benefit From, Not Sabotage Redlands Airport
July 16, 2015
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  • A lot is at stake in the city’s ruling on a development near its airport.

    Redlands Municipal airport is a general aviation (GA) airport.

    Yes, GA is those “little planes.”

    GA is basically all civil aviation operations other than scheduled and non-scheduled commercial air transport operations. Those little GA planes can range from gliders and powered parachutes to corporate business jets. Believe it or not, the majority of the world’s air traffic is GA, and most of the world’s airports serve GA exclusively.

    Did you know GA supplied 1.1 million jobs and contributed $219 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013, according to a study conducted for eight major GA groups?

    The study, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, examined GA-related industries and their direct and indirect benefits to the U.S. economy. These included aircraft component manufacturers, part sales, passengers and crews spending money on hotels, restaurants, rental cars etc. California had the highest total GA economic impact at $30.2 billion.

    The current Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chairman, Jack Pelton, stated, “While many people may equate general aviation with only business aviation, there is so much more to it. Cities, counties, and states all have local grassroots businesses that rely on general and recreational aviation for their livelihoods, so the potential of this economic benefit should be welcomed and nurtured by civic leaders and citizens alike.”

    The group also released a paper titled “The Wide Wings and Rotors of General Aviation,” which highlights GA operations around the country that contribute to the economic impact outlined in the study, from maintenance operations to air ambulance flights.

    We all saw an example of this a few weeks ago when the U.S. Forest Service set up an aerial helicopter firefighting base camp at Redlands Municipal airport to battle the Lake Fire.

    Redlands Municipal Airport is a neglected asset.

    One look at the dilapidated public lobby and you can tell.

    The city of Redlands can do so much more with it, but it just sits and languishes.

    Many of us that use the airport question whether or not the city really wants to have an airport.

    The latest threat for the airport is a 55-home development under the established helicopter training flight pattern.

    Yes, I bet those folks will be really excited about listening to the helicopters fly over their new homes.

    What do you want for $500K, peace and quiet?

    You know how this will end for the thriving helicopter training facility at the airport.

    The members of the Redlands Airport Association are not opposed to development in the vicinity of the airport. They simply want development that follows the mandates and recommendations in the California Airport Land Use Planning Handbook and the city’s own Airport Master Plan.

    When you look at the facts, the proposed development just isn’t a land use that is compatible with the airport.

    Approval of this development will eventually impact airport operations.
    With all of this in consideration, The Redlands Airport Association recommends that the proposed zoning change and housing development should not be approved.

    If we can move beyond this latest threat to the airport perhaps the city of Redlands can explore the untapped potential that exists at Redlands Municipal Airport.

    Ted Gablin, president of the Redlands Airport Association, private pilot, Airframe and Powerplant mechanic, experimental aircraft repairman and Redlands Municipal Airport tenant since 1998