Friday, April 17, 2009

Is 'save-Friedman' group forming or folding?

Express Staff Writer

Since first surfacing some six weeks ago with a 34-page prospectus for potential members, the Friedman Airport Users Alliance has taken on the characteristics of a stealth organization that prefers anonymity to transparency in its avowed effort to prevent Friedman Memorial Airport from being closed and replaced.

As of Wednesday, its proposed charter had not been filed with the Idaho Secretary of State's office under the FAUA name, according to a Capitol spokesman. A filing would require providing the names of officers as well as a place of business.

Friedman Manager Rick Baird said he had not been contacted by anyone from the group, either asking for information or requesting time to speak at a future Friedman Memorial Airport Authority meeting. He said he doesn't believe members of the Friedman governing body have been contacted either.

Blaine County Pilots Association President Jim Perkins said he had not been contacted nor does he know of any pilots who've been contacted or who have joined FAUA. However, he believes the group may be in the "early process of forming."

The president of the consulting firm Landrum & Brown, Mark Perryman, said his company, which is conducting an environmental impact study for a possible replacement airport, has not been contacted for information by FAUA.

Cayla Morgan, the Federal Aviation Administration project manager for the study, was not immediately available to say whether she had been contacted.

The Mountain Express has made several efforts in recent weeks with telephone messages and e-mails to contact Paul Bowers, an Alaska-based airport consultant who initially identified himself as the sole spokesman for FAUA. During one interview, Bowers declined to identify who formed or is behind FAUA.

However, Bowers since has not responded to Mountain Express telephone calls or replied to e-mails. Messages left at the telephone number FAUA lists on its membership invitation also have gone unanswered.

Because there had been some early indication that Seattle billionaire and aviation enthusiast Bruce McCaw might be involved in the save-Friedman project, he was contacted by the Mountain Express. During a long interview with McCaw last year, he indicated he was conducting research that might involve valley airports and aviation. Two messages left personally with his secretary and an e-mail to McCaw several weeks ago have gone unanswered.

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