GA Traffic Pours Into Nantucket For The Fourth Of July Holiday


With airlines struggling to keep up with demand, general aviation is often the best way to beat the crowds. The vacation island of Nantucket, off the south coast of Massachusetts, saw record numbers of GA aircraft arriving at its airport for the holiday weekend. According to the online news source Nantucket Current, Nantucket Memorial Airport management temporarily shut down the transient GA ramp, restricting operations to “drop and go” arrivals.

Airport manager Noah Karberg said, “What we had on Friday and Saturday was a lot of arrival traffic, and it was probably the busiest 24-hour arrival period that we’ve ever had. The thing that took me aback is typically people arrive in the lead-up to the Fourth of July in a two or three-day period. The difference this year was that everyone really showed up all at once.”

According to Karberg, the airport pumped 27,000 gallons of Jet A fuel on Friday (June 30). He said, “The fuel sales we had on Friday are usually what happens right after a festival weekend when everyone is leaving at the same time and not just an outbound day but an outbound day which is IFR—meaning low visibility, foggy conditions where people are taking on extra fuel before departing. So we closed our Southwest ramp, or our transient ramp, to everyone except Medflights or scheduled quick turns. We would let people in and they could drop passengers off but then they would have to go and stage somewhere else. It is definitely not common. It is a tool for managing capacity.”

Karberg said the restrictions, issued as a Notam, would likely continue, on and off as needed, “until July 10 or July 11.” He said this will be an attempt to stay ahead of any major rushes that could become disruptive as the airport works its way through a summer that has been busier than expected so far.

“Summer has taken off,” Karberg said. “[In early June] we went from being 5 to 10 percent below last year to being a couple of percentage points above where we were last year. So, it was an extremely busy last 10 days or so of June.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Nantucket is the new Martha’s Vinyard or Bar Harbor for all the hip new money folks who only vacation with their own kind. Come November and it will look like an abandoned movie set. Cape Air handles it quite well for most of the year.

    • ACK has always been like that, but it’s new and old money. I’ve been flying out there for many years, and now as a 135 pilot.

    • It’s the modern economy. They all have to be part of the club or risk losing influence. More and more, wealth doesn’t come from better, faster, and cheaper. It comes from influence. We are way past due for the pendulum to swing the other way again, but it can’t until the government either cannot or will not bail everyone out.

      I repeat my suggestion: stop voting for incumbents.

  2. This is the frantic scene annually at these hangouts, be it Aspen in winter or summer during the ideas conference, Eagle in winter, and all the athletic final playoff venues. From finding hotel rooms and rental cars to airline seats from and to where we left our bosses’ steeds, it’s never easy on those of who do (did, in my case) the flying. Now that I’m retired I can say this: I was always happiest when my principals’ teams lost early in a tournament.

    • Our quiet little airport on the southwest side of Houston sees that every time there is a major sporting event here, like the Super Bowl, World Series or the Final Four tournament. There’s heavy iron parked on every square foot of pavement and enough limousines to start their own traffic jam. I’m always glad when it’s over and we get our airport back.

  3. The comments here are great. We all drool over the newest heavy iron, then rag on the people who buy or rent them.

    Personally, I’m glad someone has the money to spur innovation. My whole plane cost about an hour of a Netjets rental, so they’re not developing new stuff on my account.