I generally avoid writing letters to the editor, but now that Mr. Wollscheidt has dragged my "carcass" into this, I do have some thoughts on the subject of the airport. My job requires me to travel out of town almost every week. Eventually, I got fed up with the hassles of flying on the airlines and realized that as a pilot I had an alternative. After being involved in aviation for almost 40 years, I felt very fortunate to purchase a 1967 Piper Twin Comanche. I used the airplane exclusively for business purposes (never as a "toy") for about five years until medical problems, including cancer, led me to sell the airplane and go back to the airlines.
I have had an opportunity to get to know many of the pilots in Payson. Many, like myself, own very old airplanes because that is all we can afford. Others have built or are building their own airplanes. Mr. Wollscheidt might be surprised to learn that most of the airplanes based at Payson cost about the same as some of the cars and RVs others in this town own.
Dr. Crinnian and others have already responded about the value an airport brings to Payson. I am sure if lightning starts a forest fire in the vicinity of Mr. Wollscheidt's home, he would prefer to have a fire bomber overhead in a few minutes from our local airport rather than hours later from a more distant airport when it may be too late.
Another asset is the Civil Air Patrol airplane based at Payson. Along with other volunteers, I spend many hours each year searching for lost airplanes, hikers and fishermen, and we are available on short notice to help with aerial surveillance and photography, communications or transportation in the event of a major catastrophe. Other pilots volunteer to fly those needing medical treatment to the hospital, or to fly aid to those who have suffered a loss due to natural events.
To say that only those who use the airport should have to pay for it is like saying that only those who actually use the services of the fire department or visit the national forest should pay for them. We all support the fire department and the national forest whether we have used them or not. Payson Airport is a similar resource that should be supported in a similar fashion.
Jay Hopkins, President, Error Prevention Institute; Contributing Editor, Flying Magazine; Payson