Pilots to honor airport | CraigDailyPress.com

Pilots to honor airport

State group selects Steamboat Springs facility for annual award

Blythe Terrell

Steamboat Springs Airport soared above the competition to earn honors from the Colorado Pilots Association.

The pilots organization, which has more than 700 members, is scheduled to present the 2008 General Aviation Recognition Award to the airport Saturday. Members nominated seven or eight airports for the honor this year, awards committee co-chairman Walt Barbo said. The group usually honors a general and a commercial aviation airport but received nominations only for the former this year, he said.

Steamboat Springs Airport earned the recognition partly because administrators have fought to keep it open, Barbo said.

“There was a threat many times to close that airport and convert it to other uses, and I think it’s so noteworthy that the airport administration has really gone through all of that effort to gain community support for the airport and City Council support,” he said. “And that’s what we’re trying to recognize here.”

Local association member Mike Forney wrote to the group about the airport, praising its Labor Day air show and Airport Manager Mel Baker.

“I think the airport is really an unsung hero in the community because it just generates a significant amount of economic impact,” Forney said Monday. “I think a lot of the value of the airport is now just becoming recognized, in the sense that people, in particular second-home owners, look at the Steamboat Springs Airport as a real amenity.”

Barbo, who has been a pilot for 66 years, also said the airport was an asset to the community.

“There are tremendous advantages, and you can see in Steamboat, it’s such a recreational center,” he said. “Truly, it gains so much visibility not only within the state but nationally.”

The airport also is useful to business owners, Forney said.

Les Liman owns Twin Enviro Services and ACZ Laboratories. Liman flew recreationally in college and started flying again in 1991 for business purposes. He said he takes his single-engine plane around the state a couple of times a week, leaving from Steamboat Springs Airport.

“I’m really glad it’s here,” Liman said. “And I really think that when you understand that a trip to Cañon City is a 45-minute flight, adding a 30-minute commute on either end of that flight to, say, to go to use the Hayden airport, for example, really cuts down on the utility of the airport.”

Barbo said he flies to Steamboat Springs Airport a couple of times a year.

“I am delighted that they went through the effort that they did, and we’re delighted to recognize them,” Barbo said.

– To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234

or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com