Great Barrington’s airport needs to add facilities

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By Thursday, Feb 9 Letters  4 Comments

To the Editor:

To the neighbors of the Great Barrington airport, to members of the community:

I’m both! As a resident of Great Barrington, an aircraft owner, and active community member at the Great Barrington Airport, I’m strongly in favor of the proposed hangar-building plans.

Our small town airport will never become a traditional fence-wrapped, high-volume, brightly-lit commercial airport. That’s simply not who we are. The Great Barrington Airport is a locally-owned, community-supported venture. It provides a gathering place for weekend flyers to socialize, and share their great passion for aviation. The top-notch flight school provides individualized curriculums, producing top-gun pilots. The maintenance shop serves the Northeast with affordable, specialty services. It’s a grand, diverse community of wonderful, welcoming people, which you’d know if you’ve ever visited. And if you haven’t, stop by anytime! Everyone is welcome.

This is a convenient airport for weekend flyers, wanting to visit our town. It’s a drop-off/pick-up point for the local boarding schools, too. Any visitor who flies in loves it, and wants to come back! That’s thanks to the unparalleled friendly, personal, and quick service they receive. They love our town; they love our airport.

Though the airport mostly provides a home to small, two or four seat, single-engine aircraft, these are still expensive pieces of machinery that deserve the most caring and comfortable environment possible. Leaving an aircraft outside is fine, but that means they’re exposed to the elements. It’s not just extreme weather we don’t like –– it’s the bright sun which can cause damage to glass, and age paint overtime. In the winter, it’s the snow, ice and cold. Winter flying can be an ordeal. In any snowy season, hours before we plan to take off, we must trudge out to our aircraft, brush off any snow or ice, and carry a portable propane-heater to the airplane to warm the engine. Alternatively, we tug the airplane to the nearest building where it can be plugged in. Being in a covered-hangar prevents all of this. And, a single, drivable, easy-to-plow path to our airplanes would be incredible.

For years we’ve been dreaming of the day when we could finally put our planes under a roof, knowing they would be safe, and easier to access during all seasons. It’s wonderful to know that this day could be coming soon.

As an active, influential member of airport, and other Berkshire communities, I promise to do my part in advocating for all parties. But what I will not support is a fear around any growth or progress. This airport simply will not survive forever without changes, and it would be a detrimental, tragic, and economic loss for Great Barrington and the Berkshires as a whole.

Now, we move forward and up! Enhancing our community and our town.

Looking forward to seeing new faces around our airport as it continues to serve as a beautiful, community-friendly spot.

Noah Meyerowitz

Great Barrington

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4 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Ken Kushi says:

    Neighbors of the airport and local residents..
    I started flying at the Great Barrington Airport in 1958 learning to fly a piper Cub.
    Today thanks to the foresight of the new owners, there now 4 of these Vintage Piper Cubs located on the field, and once again new pilots can learn in a slow flying, basic, well maintained aircraft. One of few places in the North East still teaching in them.

    I do not own an airplane now, because of the cost, and because there are 4 Piper Cubs for rent at the airport. Always ready to rent. These old planes cannot be kept outside because of their fabric covering. Some local pilots have to keep their planes 30-50 miles away to have a hanger.
    These same pilots have to come to Great Barrington for fuel anyway, so it will not increase the traffic any.
    Also people from all over come to the Berkshires to ski at our local owned ski areas, they stay at our motels and eat and shop at our local stores as well. Also people fly here to go to other local spots like the Rockwell gallery and Stockbridge to name a few .
    Let’s help these pilots protect their aircraft in the name of SAFETY as well
    Ken Kushi

  2. Helen says:

    Flying is a lovely hobby and watching the planes can be a wonderful experience. But there is a cost to this expansion, and the pilots and airport owners are asking the neighbors to pay those costs.

    Noah, do you live near open space? Imagine if your neighbor wanted to build three huge, unsightly, buildings across the street from you, blocking your view and adding significant noise. No matter how much your neighbor would enjoy what was happening in those ugly buildings, you would be at town hall fighting it. Anyone would.

    An airport in a residential neighborhood is a delicate balance. Three 150′ x 50′ buildings, 18 more planes placed at the residential edge of the land, that tips the balance.

    I don’t live anywhere near the airport, but I understand how upset the neighbors must be. You should try to understand that, too.

    1. Noah Meyerowitz says:

      Hi, Helen,

      I do live near an open field. I also happen to live about one mile from the airport; I hear all the planes and helicopters.

      To clarify, these hangars are not bringing eighteen new airplanes to the airport. The airplanes that already exist on the field would be relocated to a sheltered space. No new noise, except perhaps during construction, and actually a cleaner look.

      Plus, these can’t be referred to as “unsightly” just yet. Modern prefab steel buildings can actually look quite clean and nice. They come in different colors, to match environments. We can’t be sure what the airport will choose, but I can’t bet that these will look a whole lot less intrusive than what’s there now.

      Finally, I do understand the perspective of the neighbors. But I’m also keeping the bigger picture of progress in mind. Since this is bound to happen at some point, I’m happy the discussion is taking place. Neither party is digging their heels in yet, and that’s how it should be; no one will be happy then. It’s time to find a compromise that keeps everyone satisfied.

  3. Eleanor Windman says:

    After attending this town meeting on the proposed airport expansion, I came up with a great idea

    I will build an exciting cirque du soleil abutting your property. It will bring money into Great Barrington, it’s a place to house my elephant, and I can travel to it whenever I want.
    I’ve always loved the circus …and hope you will to.

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