Recent letters about our Payson Airport miss the main point. They overlook the many ways our community benefits from having an airport that is safe, up-to-date, and well managed. Ironically, planned projects to improve the function of the Payson Airport were rejected this year. Perhaps it's time to review the ways our airport supports our community.
I moved to Payson during the Willow fire. Without the air tankers dropping retardant and the helicopters carrying water, and the spotter planes monitoring the progress of the fire, our fire crews would have faced an impossible task. At the time of the Willow fire, a smaller fire east of Payson closed Highway 260 briefly, as Highway 87 was closed by the larger blaze. Multiple road closures remind us that there are few ways in and out of Payson. Panic could have resulted, and homes might have gone up in flames without the help that our fire crews received from planes using the Payson Airport.
Forest fires make us aware of the importance of the gateways to our town. Keeping our airport well equipped and up-to-date means our roads will be better protected from encroaching fires. ADOT maintains and improves our roads. We should not begrudge our share of the cost in doing the same for our airport.
Finally, our hospitals, banks, businesses, and mail service all use the Payson Airport. Regular blood flights, emergency medical flights, UPS overnight packages, plus check flights twice daily from several local banks all keep life running smoothly here in Payson. Supplying the needs of a larger area for education and training, our airport sees many practice flights from Embry-Riddle, as well as from Phoenix area law enforcement helicopter pilots and crews. It's time we all realize what a vital part the airport plays in our community.