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woose.org: Media - Chamber event showcases OSU airport facilities
Chamber event showcases OSU airport facilities
The Worthington News (SNP), September 6, 2006


Reprinted courtesy of The Worthington News/SNP 2006

The Don Scott Airport opened Hangar 1 to host business networking with the Columbus Chamber of Commerce last Wednesday.

Preliminary numbers suggest the event may have been one of the chamber's largest networking events, said Airport Director Doug Hammon.
"It was a great success," he said.

The event, which was eagerly promoted by airport officials in the last month, gave area businessmen and women a chance to learn more about the inner workings of the airport.

It also showcased community programs like Young Eagles, Youth Aviation Adventure and others that operate at the Don Scott Airfield. Emergency helicopter fly-ins, aircraft and control tower tours were just a few of the activities enjoyed by an estimated 250-plus visitors that evening.

Because the airport has always claimed to be first and foremost an educational facility for training more than 200 aviation students, neighbors are wondering what business the airport has expanding its corporate profile.

Members of the airport advisory board requested a formal explanation of the airport's business advocacy intentions at the board's August meeting.

Business outreach allows the airport to serve as a community resource and therefore fulfill one of the university's missions, Hammon said. Another major component is the airport's bottom line.

It takes about $6 million annually to run the airport, Hammon said. But there are common misconceptions about how the airport gets cash in the coffers.

Although a part of the Ohio State University College of Engineering, the Don Scott Airport does not receive any funding from the university's general fund.

The majority -- almost 80 percent -- of airport funding comes from fuel sales. The rest comes from hangar sales and a handful of other services.

Hammon has estimated that corporations -- whose large jets hold more than 2,000 gallons of fuel -- bring in about 80 percent of the fuel sale profits. These same jets account for about 8 percent of the $100,000 yearly operations at Don Scott. An operation is a take-off or a landing at the airport.

The jets also account for at least 58 percent of the noise complaints from neighbors, said Dennis Hennen, president of We Oppose Ohio State Airport Expansion.

The reports generated on WOOSE's online noise complaint system are self-reported, which means that someone who thinks they are complaining about a jet might not actually be, Hennen said.

That is a weakness the group hopes to correct with implementation of the university's noise complaint system, Hennen added.

"But from all the data we have, it seems corporate aviation brings the highest number of complaints," Hennen said. Why, neighbors are asking, would the university "continue to pursue the most offensive type of aircraft?" he said.
The airport is serving out its educational mission through its corporate appeal in a number of ways, Hammon said.

First, student pilots are able to learn and build relationships among professionals they might one day work for. Secondly, the airport serves as an economic tool for area businesses.
"We're not the reason businesses come here, but we're one of the reasons," Hammon said.
The added corporate traffic bumps Don Scott Airport up on the FAA's priority list for improvement projects as well, Hammon said.

"The students aren't paying for the paving and lighting projects going on right now, but they are benefitting from them," he said.

Overall, students benefit from the kind of airport Don Scott is, Hammon said, and they are attracted here because of it.

Still, neighbors worry they might have to put up with nighttime noise that doesn't benefit the student pilots.

"Some of these jets are landing and taking off at night when not students are around, and their next stop is Port Columbus, where they fill up with fuel," Hennen said.

Outside of the noise argument are those who, surprisingly, fail to recognize the airport's success, Hammon said.

"Despite the fact that we're the 88th largest top 100 general aviation airport (non-commercial) airport in the nation," a lot of people still believe there is nothing but a cornfield and some cows east of Sawmill Road, Hammon said.

Read more Central Ohio Community News at the Suburban News Publications Web site, SNPonline.com.

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