Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Needed: leader who will stop airport pussyfooting


The news looked good on the surface.

Last week, aviation experts said installing satellite-driven navigation equipment on commercial aircraft that use Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey could improve access dramatically in cloudy weather.

The good news ended there, and the "yeah, buts" began.

Yeah, but the airport is lined on both sides by high mountains that make dealing with missed approaches difficult.

Yeah, but key airlines may not step up and make the investment in the necessary equipment.

Yeah, but will the Federal Aviation Administration approve such a system?

This is a scenario with which the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority is painfully familiar. It's a scenario that has repeated itself over and over during the past 30 years of operations at the airport. One result has been glacial movement in finding solutions to the issues that plague the airport: geography, winter weather and airline decisions to move to larger aircraft that are not easily accommodated at the airport. Another result is interminable pussyfooting around.

In the middle of all this is the FAA's sphinx-like demeanor. It looks all-knowing and acts all-knowing, but more often than not puts local leaders in the position of supplicant with no way of knowing exactly how to get FAA approval.

So, the airport problem gets passed on from administration to administration despite the efforts of elected officials in Blaine County and Hailey, the two government groups responsible for the airport.

In the meantime, businesses and investors are left in limbo. Should they stay or go? Should they invest or not?

The lack of decisions makes employment precarious. That makes attracting younger generations of people to the valley difficult—or impossible. Yet, Sun Valley area leaders have said repeatedly that local marketing should be directed at those 18-35 years old and younger. But if they come here and don't see themselves represented in the local population, it makes it less likely they'll make friends who bond with the area for a lifetime.

The airport is an issue looking for a leader—perhaps the governor, a congressman, a U.S. senator or an FAA official—who can cut through the FAA's mysterious bureaucratic layers, engage commercial airlines and aviation consultants and get a majority of the Sun Valley area's population to agree.

The Sun Valley area is important to Idaho's economy. An airport solution that arrives another decade from now will be a decade too late for businesses, investors and younger generations that may want to carve out lives in our beautiful mountain towns.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.