From the South Ramp

--Hank Bruckner:

November 2002

Just Say No!
    No sooner had our last issue gone to press than the governor (the lame duck one) made his startling announcement that the state would divest itself of over one third of its airports.  Startling for several reasons: first and foremost, of course, is the sheer lunacy of the plan.  In a state where you cannot drive from one point to any other point, airports provide the only means to connect any part of the state with any other part.  There are already too few airports to serve the public adequately; so, let’s eliminate more.   What was also striking, though I suppose not surprising, was the way it was announced. By the time the public knew (11 October newspaper article), the process was well underway.  A letter, dated October 1st, was sent to select recipients—not including some of the state employees who actually work at the affected airports—indicating that the closure/divestment was under study.  The closing paragraph was interesting. “Since this initiative may be unpopular and perceived as a reduction of the State Airport System, we request your viewpoint on the value of this idea.”  It was interesting that GACH was not a recipient. (We did get two mailings on the list of approved detergents for washing your aircraft, though, so I guess that makes up for it.)

    In addition to GACH, AOPA was all over this one.  As soon as the plan was known, Phil Boyer sent a strong letter to the Governor and the state legislature.  Our FAA Pacific Representative and her staff were also quick to respond, reminding the governor in no uncertain terms of the federal grant obligations incurred for four of the five airports in question. 
GACH responded with the following letter to the governor:

“The Honorable Benjamin J. Cayetano
Executive Chambers
Honolulu, HI 96813
Dear Governor Cayetano:
“The proposal to close or privatize five of the fourteen state airports is an unnecessary, discriminatory and unacceptable solution to a funding shortfall that is, in fact, self-generated.    Smaller airports are vital to the state’s overall economy and well-being and should be preserved and protected rather than squandered under the banner of expediency.  Rather than divesting itself of over a third of its airports, the State should ensure that the state airports system is properly and responsibly managed.

“The state of Hawai'i has lost literally millions of dollars in available Federal grants for its airports by being in non-compliance for a decade with federal requirements for funds already allocated. This mismanagement of funds has curtailed the state’s eligibility for much-needed moneys, especially in light of the post-September 11th security and tourism environment.  Just bringing the state into compliance would more than make up the publicized $2million shortfall in the Airports operating budget.

“It is our understanding that under the agreement between the state and the Airlines Committee, in exchange for certain ongoing concessions, the Committee will underwrite any Airports budget shortfall.   Now is certainly not the time to ignore the provisions of that arrangement.
The state intentionally did not seek any federal funding for Kapalua airport so as to not be bound by grant obligations and have to allow broader access to that facility.  Having rejected the opportunity for funding, it is highly inappropriate to now use a funding shortfall as an excuse to close that airport.  The other four airports have received federal grants over the years and their closure would incur repayment obligations far in excess of any projected savings.
 
“All the airports on the list play an important role in both the state and national transportation system.  With our vulnerability to natural disasters such as hurricanes, eliminating even one airfield that could potentially be essential to disaster assistance would be a huge disservice to the community.  These airfields all serve their communities in a variety of ways.

“Each of the five airports provides an emergency landing haven in otherwise rugged and remote terrain and plays a vital role in aviation safety in the state. Upolu Airport is the only airfield on the entire rugged Hamakua coast and serves a key role as a potential emergency landing field.  It also provides access for emergency medical evacuation of patients in Hawi and other communities in vicinity.  Upolu plays an important role in pilot training, and could be an important factor in future economic development in the area.  These benefits greatly outweigh the negligible costs of maintaining this facility.  Port Allen similarly serves south Kaua'i, and is important to the tourist trade on that island.  Waimea-Kohala (Kamuela) has earned Essential Air Service status and is vital to a growing community.   Dillingham Field is the only place in the state for people to enjoy sky diving and soaring and is important to the entire North Shore community.  Kapalua West Maui serves the Ka’anapali and Lahaina areas, relieving highway congestion and should, if anything, be expanded to accommodate a greater range of services.

“The General Aviation community in Hawai'i has served this state well over the years, providing personal, business and tourist transportation, flight training, search and rescue, disaster assistance, and medical evacuation, to mention just a few of the vital roles we play.  General Aviation’s contribution to the state and local economies is considerable.  The General Aviation Council of Hawai'i will continue working with the state Airports Division as well as the Federal Government and national aviation organizations to promote all aspects of aviation and aviation safety.”


    The governor signed the following response:

“Thank you for your letter dated October 14, 2002, expressing the viewpoint of the Hawai'i general aviation community regarding the privatization/closure of airports.  We understand that the five airports are important to your pilots’ training needs and may be important to the communities for disaster and emergency needs.

“However, due to the sharp decrease in our airport system’s revenues, we will initially determine if there are interested parties to manage and operate the airports.  This privatizing of the airports will ensure that they remain open for public use.  If we determine that there are no individuals or parties available to operate the airports, only then will we consider closures.

“We are currently exploring other avenues to increase airport revenues, including applying to the Federal Aviation Administration for discretionary funds as you have mentioned.  We appreciate your concern and your support in the acquisition of Kalaeloa General Aviation Reliever Airport and hope to work with you again.

“Please contact Mr. Ben Schlapak, Head Planning Engineer at the Department of Transportation Airports Division, at 838-8821, to clarify questions you may have.”


There you have it.  An issue dodged is an issue solved. The answer really wasn’t worth the postage.  This issue is not going away until we make it go away. We need to do that.  We need to insure that the state leadership has a full understanding of the role and value of GA in this state. With Linda Lingle as our next Governor, I have a high expectation that things will get better.  She has already gone on record opposing the closures.  Her administration will have a tough transition period and a steep learning curve, but she is a very bright person and, my guess, a very quick study, and we are looking forward to working with some fresh ideas and minds.  Her commitment to “embrace business rather than just tolerate it” bodes well for those who have been so stymied in attempting to obtain all the permits and approvals needed to run virtually any kind of business here.

Port Allen Fly-In
    In spite of the late date change, five aircraft flew the 105 or so nautical miles from Honolulu to our annual fly-in at Port Allen, Kaua'i.  Unfortunately (and uncharacteristically), O’ahu was the only island represented.  The weather was near perfect, with light breezes and blue skies.   The nearby beach park served as a superb place to have lunch and swim in the clear ocean. Bob Justman’s RV-4, a Midget Mustang, Howard Word’s Luscombe, Chris Ferrara’s Saratoga, and Don Machado’s Grumman AA-1 parked along the west side of the runway, just a stone’s throw from the beach.  Each year I resolve to bring my swimsuit and then I don’t.  Next year, fer sure.  
Port Allen’s allure is its relative remoteness as well as its natural beauty.  Of course, it would be even nicer if the weeds were cut back a bit.  There are better uses for an aircraft propeller.   Next year, we’re thinking of inviting the general public and having an airshow.  Logistics would be challenging, but not impossible.   Ideas?
    
Military Aviation Museum of the Pacific
    The Military Aviation Museum of the Pacific at Ford Island is much closer to reality.  The design is well underway and negotiations with the Navy over final details are also nearing fruition.  The plan is to incorporate the famous tower and the three adjacent hangars into a major, world-class facility presenting the history of military aviation throughout this region. Clearly a major focus will be on World War Two, but it will cover the time from the beginnings of flight out here through Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, and into the present.  

The museum is gearing up for a major capital campaign to make this a reality.  To this end, the second annual fund-raiser dinner will be held December 6th, at Ford Island.  The catered event will feature Astronauts Bill Dana and Wally Schirra, a host of military memorabilia, equipment and aircraft, a multimedia presentation emceed by Kirk Mathews and Linda Coble, and, of course, a great dinner.  Price is $200/person (remember, it is a fund raiser!), and you also have the option of reserving a whole table.   Last year’s event at the Hickam AFB Officers’ Club was a huge success, and this one should be even better.   What more appropriate place to have the event than at Ford Island itself in one of the historic hangars!  Don’t miss this opportunity to do something to preserve our history and meet some neat folks, to boot.  If you are interested, please contact me at 836-1031 or Allan Palmer at 836-7747  

Great Hawaiian Air Race
    Help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the advent of powered manned flight by participating in the Fifth Annual Great Hawaiian Air Race, February 14-18, 2003.  All proceeds from the event go to Make-A-Wish, Hawai’i, which benefits children with life-threatening diseases.  Some pretty cool prizes are up for grabs, and you can race either in Speed or Proficiency categories (or both!).  We anticipate having race teams from around the globe, as in years past.  This year we’d like to get more Hawai'i –based aircraft owners to participate.  It is a great venue to promote General Aviation in a very positive way to the public at large as well as hone your flight planning and flying skills.  Contact Greg Marshall at 373-1889 or me at 836-1031.  You can download a race kit from www.flyhawaii.com/GHAR.html.
    
Aloha
    Two of the folks we’ve been working with for some time have left their state DoT positions for new employment with the Transportation Security Agency: Stanford Miyamoto, the O’ahu Airports District Manager and his Operations deputy, Bobby Peru.  We will miss them both here and wish them the best.  Ben Schlapak, the Chief Planning Engineer for DoT Airports is also now the acting HNL manager.  

Whale Season
    With November came the first sighting of a Humpback whale in Hawaiian waters.  With that, of course, comes our yearly reminder to stay at least 1,000’ from one in an aircraft (or 300’ in a water craft). The season runs from November through May.

    Be careful out there.



FOR SALE:

AERONCA 7AC, 1946, 6,561 TT, 440 SMOH.  Recovered July 99. New mags. $16,000 firm.
O-1A BIRD DOG, 1951, 10,211 TT, 235 SMOH. Fresh annual. Original USAF configuration, gray USAF paint. Beautiful restoration. Star of 2002 FAC reunion in Hawaii. $65,000.  Contact Allan at 836-7747. Email: mamop@pixi.net

Air-to-Air Photo Books
Beautiful coffee table books by one of aviation’s foremost air-to-air photographers, Paul Bowen. Over 500 color photos grace the pages of each hard cover book of approximately 225 pages each. Air-to-Air Volume I & II normally sell for $70 each, plus shipping and tax. These books are now available through Photography by Ed Helmick at a 20% discount for GACH members. Each book is now $58.58 with tax. These books are a must for pilots and aviation enthusiasts. Call 922-3411, fax 922-1061 or email ehelmick@hawaii.rr.com to place your order. These books will make great Christmas gifts. This offer is limited to stock on hand on a first come first serve basis.

High Resolution Film Scans
If you have slides, negatives or Advantix APS cartridges that you would like transferred to a CD that can now be accomplished with scans up to 4000dpi resolution. Additionally, this new technology equipment can detect and remove dust, scratches and other imperfection on film during the scanning process. Photography by Ed Helmick will provide high-resolution film scans to GACH members at a wholesale fee for service rate.
Contact Photography by Ed Helmick at 922-3411, fax 922-1061 or email ehelmick@hawaii.rr.com for details.