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Sat, Dec 13, 2008

VNC Advocates Reach Out To Community

Open House, Parade Float Generate Enthusiasm

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association told ANN recently about one airport's efforts to reach out to its community, and generate interest and enthusiasm in what some local residents perceive as a liability.

Pilots flying from Venice Municipal Airport (VNC) in Florida used a local holiday parade and airport birthday celebration to reach out to the nonflying public, a move they believe helped engender good will for their airport despite long-running battles over noise and safety issues.

AOPA says over 3,000 people attended the December 6 birthday bash and airport open house for Venice Municipal, while thousands of others saw the airport in a new light after the Venice Aviation Society Inc. (VASI), a local pilots group, had a float in the community’s holiday parade.

"Both events were grand slam home runs, and the outreach will continue," said Nick Carlucci, president of VASI and an AOPA member.

Like many airports of similar size and location, VNC has been under attack by a small-but-vocal number of anti-airport neighbors, who have raised noise and safety concerns about the field. AOPA has been actively involved working with pilots and AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer John Yurosko to enhance the airport’s image and to encourage city officials to take action to protect the field.

There has been progress. In 2006, AOPA President Phil Boyer joined a crowd of city, state, and federal officials to celebrate the reopening of the field's primary runway. Boyer's CitationJet was the very first aircraft to take off from the new runway.

But the battle has been largely uphill. AOPA says the Venice City Council disbanded the airport advisory board earlier this year after the board called for improvements and objected to proposals to shorten the runway or restrict access to the airport.

The city also has struggled to develop an updated master plan for the airport that complies with FAA requirements to maintain airport safety and utility.



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