The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is a not-for-profit membership association of almost 400,000 pilots and aircraft owners nationwide including more than 11,500 members in the state of Washington. On behalf of our members, AOPA is committed to ensuring the future viability and economic development of general aviation airports.
Vista Field is one of those general aviation airports for which AOPA fights. The state of Washington believes it to be important enough to be included in the State Aviation System Plan as a Community Service airport. It is only due to being close to two other airports within the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) that it is excluded from recognition by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as being a critical part of the national air transportation system.
The airport provides an important benefit to the entire community, not just the pilots and aircraft owners on the field. And it is important to note that those airport users pay their way through leases and taxes on the aircraft and fuel, which support operations at the airport. Unfortunately, the taxes paid to the state are not 100 percent dedicated to aviation use. Non-aviation uses take 90 percent of the taxes paid, leaving very little to spend on local airports like Vista Field.
Vista Field is an important piece of a statewide transportation infrastructure that currently contributes to the economic benefit of the community and has the potential to contribute even more. The port should continue to exert all efforts to move forward with the 2011 Airport Master Plan and not be so quick to throw in the towel.
-- JOHN L. COLLINS, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association