Why did the consultants not include the years between 1980 and 2004? Did someone conveniently not give this information to them? Vista Airport provided a gateway to this community during these years and was not a drain on the community as the Port of Kennewick suggests.
Kennewick Aircraft operated off of Vista Field in late 1979 in a shack across from where the new building would be built in 1981, Gil Mayfield had a 99-year lease on the airport and with investors built the FBO building. Kennewick Aircraft then moved into the new building and offered all the services that is expected of an FBO.
Before too long, pilots were flying in from all over Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon to go shopping and do business. Vista was now a destination.
The city owned the airport from the mid 70s to 1991, when it was purchased by the Port of Kennewick. Since then the port has done everything in its power to make sure Vista fails, and they have done it in a slow methodical, and some would say, "devious" way.
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They first put Kennewick Aircraft out for Request for Proposal (RFP) which they had never done before, (our lease had lapsed while we, in good faith, were negotiating a new lease.) We wrote a proposal, and, although we had all the equipment in place and were already providing a full service FBO and were the high bid, the port still awarded the bid to Ben Tuttle, whose only experience was having a mechanic's license.
Within about a year or so the port rewrote Tuttle's lease (I read it) and included a clause that if there is any negative news about the future of the airport, the port would buy out Mr. Tuttle in the amount of $75,000. The clause also stated that Tuttle would not publicly voice any comments on Vista's closure then or in the future. Similarly, Mr. Musser and Gaunt were offered a large amount of money for their hangars, with the same stipulation as Tuttle.
Needless to say everyone took their money and left.
Now, except for Cadwell Labs, they have removed all of the big players, and makes it almost impossible for anyone, except for maybe Mr. Bill Gates to improve and operate the airport as the port stipulated in their lease. Well done, Port of Kennewick, mission accomplished!
I would like to thank the Port of Kennewick for its actions, as we, Kennewick Aircraft (DBA Sundance Aviation) are now at the Richland Airport where the Port of Benton realizes how important an airport is to the community. The Port of Benton has been so supportive to us. To quote Sally Field, "They love us. They really really love us."
-- SUZIE KELLY-DYER, Richland