Q. I read in the newspaper that Albert Whitted Airport is only used by a few rich people.  Is that true?
A. Nothing could be farther from the truth.  There are over 100,000 flight operations a year at Albert Whitted Airport and over half of those are by aircraft not based at Albert Whitted.  Those aircraft fly into St. Petersburg from other areas bring revenue to our community.  As for the aircraft based on the airport, many of the small planes cost no more than a car or boat. Many small-plane pilots save their money to rent a plane on an hourly basis, just because they love flying. Many of the more expensive aircraft are owned by businesses that find Albert Whitted Airport a convenient downtown location for their aircraft.
Q. Doesn’t the airport cost me money as a taxpayer?
A. According to the City of St. Petersburg budget for the fiscal year 2003, the city lists the airport along with the municipal marina, golf courses and a few other enterprises as city operations that are self-supporting.  Fees are charged to users to pay the costs of operations.
Q. How much will enhancements to our airport cost?
A. Most airport improvements are 80% funded by the federal government.  An additional 10% is funded by the Florida Dept. of Transportation.  In some cases 90% may be funded by the State.  That leaves only 10% that would come from local tax money.  If these Federal and State monies aren’t used by us, they will be lost, going to another community’s airport.
Q. Since I’m not a pilot, how does the airport benefit me?
A. Albert Whitted Airport is an integral part of our city’s economic engine.  In addition to the jobs and income it provides directly, the airport is instrumental in the creation of community income by companies that use the airport to facilitate their business here in St. Petersburg.  Additionally, individuals and companies from out of town travel to St. Petersburg to spend money on maintenance expertise found unique to Albert Whitted Airport.  Other benefits include emergency medical assistance (Bayflite), law enforcement (FHP bases a plane at Albert Whitted), traffic reporting, Civil Air Patrol search-and-rescue and disaster relief staging.
Q. What is the economic impact of Albert Whitted Airport?
A. Total economic impact results for Albert Whitted Airport, based on a 1999 study done by the LPA Group for the City of St. Petersburg, show goods and services at  $21,545,320, payroll at $6,744,524 and employment at 305 people.  Business activity associated with Albert Whitted Airport contributes more than $8.6 million directly to the economy through purchases of goods and services.  Most city parks are subsidized at taxpayer expense.
Q. How would Albert Whitted Airport benefit me after a major disaster like Hurricane Andrew?
A. According to Mike Handrahan, Airport Director for the Kendall-Tamiami Airport in south Miami, their airport played a major role in relief efforts and became the “lifeline to the community.” Major and secondary roads were impassable for days and roads into some of the neighborhoods were not accessible for much longer times.  Their airport became a staging area for relief supplies from all over the country. Several of the planes carrying supplies came from Albert Whitted Airport.  Supplies were flown to the airport and then distributed to the neighborhoods.  The Florida National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, police and a military unit from Ft. Campbell, KY used the airport.  Mr. Handrahan said, “The scope of that operation could not have taken place in a parking lot.”  Their airport also became a “tent city” for over 200 relief workers, including the American Red Cross.
Q. What is the new travel system SATS, and will the residents of St. Petersburg be able to benefit from SATS?
A. NASA and other federal and private agencies are developing a program that will revolutionize air travel.  It’s called SATS:  Small Aircraft Transportation System.  SATS will change the way we travel and bring commercial air travel to small airports like Albert Whitted.  Currently small, safe and quiet jets are being built with electronics that will allow them to fly safely and economically from point to point without flying through major hubs.  The purpose is to relieve the congestion and delays at major airports.  This so-called, air taxi system may sound like a futuristic dream, but it’s real.  We could see SATS aircraft at Albert Whitted within the next five years.
Q. Are there any other reasons why we should preserve Albert Whitted Airport for the future?
A. Yes!  One very important one:  Our children & grandchildren, who may someday dream of being pilots, will be able to embark on that dream at Albert Whitted.   Every year hundreds of young people experience their first flight at our airport.  Some become pilots, some of those pilots go on to become airline pilots.
Q. How can I join the Albert Whitted Airport Preservation Society and help preserve and enhance our historic airport?  JOIN NOW
A. Write to: AWAPS, Albert Whitted Airport, 451 8th Ave. S.E., St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Or call: 727-822-1532.
Albert Whitted Airport Economic Benefit Analysis Executive Summary prepared by LPA Group Incorporated, City of St. Petersburg Parks Dept. web site, City of St. Petersburg budget for the fiscal year 2003, St. Petersburg Times, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Mike Handrahan, NASA web site
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