AOPA Refutes "Anti-Airport" Label

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AOPA found itself cast in the unlikely role of airport opponent last week but quickly moved to change the script. It seems opponents of a proposal by the city of Burlington, Conn., to revive the former Johnnycake Airport as a municipal facility were able to mold a July 7 article on the AOPA Web site to fit their particular agenda. In that article, AOPA opposes the construction of an elementary school within 1,300 feet of the airport in Oxnard, Calif. And since there are schools within a mile of Johnnycake Airport, Burlington Impact, the group formed to oppose the Sept. 13 referendum, reasoned that AOPA would have a similar stand in Connecticut. Not so, said AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy, in an interview with the Register Citizen. "We would never take an anti-airport stance," he told the newspaper. Dancy explained that while AOPA doesn't think it's a good idea to build new schools near airports, it certainly doesn't support closing airports (or keeping them closed) because schools are nearby. "They (Burlington Impact) have taken information off our Web site and misinterpreted it," Dancy said. Burlington Impact spokesman Chuck Brandi told the Register Citizen it accepts AOPA's clarification but also noted the organization can't have it both ways. "The fact that we are in Connecticut and the AOPA's position was specific to an Oxnard, Calif., airport does not change the fact that a municipal airport less than a mile from a school housing every fifth- to twelfth-grader in [the area] is concerning," he said.