...And Small Airports Hope For Bluer Skies

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While the big manufacturers hunker down and wait for better times, the small businesses scattered among the nation's local airports can't always surmount the obstacles of restricted flight areas, slow rentals and training, and stalled fuel sales. One example is the Tacoma Narrows Airport in Washington state. In 2001 the Narrows airport recorded 95,791 tower operations, which fell to 81,449 last year, the News Tribune reported Tuesday. Activity is expected to rebound a bit to about 83,000 for this year, but some small operators at the field have already bailed out. "There just plain isn't as much flying as there used to be," Rich Mueller, the manager of the airport, told the News Tribune. "They clamped a 30-mile security jar around Sea-Tac, and everything inside it was restricted nigh unto death."