February 25, 2011

The Granite State Airport Managers Association (GSAMA) represents the nearly two dozen public-use airports in New Hampshire, only two of which have scheduled commercial service. On March 16, the group will hold its third GSAMA at the Capital Day at the State House in Concord, where members will educate legislators about the importance of airports – including general aviation (GA) airports – to New Hampshire’s transportation system and economy.

“This event is usually well-attended by legislators,” said Rick Dyment, GSAMA president and manager of Lebanon Municipal Airport (LEB). “We divide the room into regions and invite the legislators to learn more about all the airports in New Hampshire, especially the airports in their districts.”

The airport representatives will urge legislators to open an airport trust fund in the state budget, which can later be used to combine public funding and private donations for airport development.

“Even during difficult economic times, we’re optimistic that the passage of this trust fund bill will give many of New Hampshire’s smaller airports the means for needed improvements and safety-related projects,” said Bruce Hutchings, past president of GSAMA and former manager of Mount Washington Regional Airport (HIE).

Committed to promoting local advocacy efforts, NBAA is supporting the GSAMA event by providing informational resources and encouraging grassroots participation. Dean Saucier, NBAA’s northeast regional representative, provided 200 copies of the NBAA Business Aviation Fact Book and the NBAA Airports Handbook for GSAMA representatives to share with legislators. Airport representatives will also share data from a GSAMA study demonstrating the value of GA airports in the state.

“NBAA has been a strong supporter of GSAMA’s efforts in educating New Hampshire legislators,” said Dale Wilde, a GSAMA member and business development manager at civil engineering company Hoyle, Tanner & Associates. “The Fact Book reinforces our message that general aviation is important to this state and its economy.”

Across New Hampshire, communities without airline service rely on business aviation and small airports for a vital transportation link.

“While neighboring states like Massachusetts and Maine have many airports with airline service, New Hampshire has only two,” said Saucier, “That’s why business aviation is so essential in this state.”

Dyment also stressed the importance of business aviation to New Hampshire. “With Dartmouth College, all the startups here and thriving forest products and tourism industries, there are business airplanes flying in and out of our airports all the time,” he said. “Airports serve aviation, and we hope legislators will leave this event saying ‘Wow, I didn’t know airports did all this for New Hampshire.'”