Local Airports Offer Vital Services
August 13, 2018
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  • The Danville Airport Authority is working to attract more local residents and businesses to the airfield in Riverside.

    The nonprofit facility along Sunbury Road dates back to 1936, and is owned by Montour and Northumberland counties.

    The airport — just like the Penn Valley Airport near Selinsgrove and the Northumberland County Airport near Elysburg — benefits the entire region.

    The Federal Aviation Administration calls the 2,952 general aviation landing facilities, including 2,903 airports, 10 heliports and 39 seaplane bases across the nation, a “national asset.”

    Most of us are familiar with the 378 primary airports — including those in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and New York — that offer scheduled commercial air service.

    But as the FAA notes, more than 2,900 other smaller facilities provide valuable services and potential life-saving capabilities, including medical flights, emergency response, aerial firefighting support, disaster relief, search and rescue.

    The Danville Airport and other general aviation facilities also support and attract business and commercial activity by providing time-saving access to our region, agricultural support, aerial surveying and observation, a base for survey and inspection services, business and executive flight services as well as an array of flight instruction and personal flying opportunities.

    “Together these 2,952 general aviation airports form an extensive network and make important economic contributions to society,” the FAA writes in its report, “General Aviation Airports: A National Asset.”

    “Many of these aeronautical functions cannot be economically supported at primary commercial service airports, and other alternatives (such as fighting forest fires without aerial support) are less effective and sometimes more dangerous.”

    The Danville Airport Authority is planning to seek a grant for guidance lights to provide for safer landings.

    The airport has one paved runway made possible with state funds and materials provided by PPL Electric Utilities. The 3,000-foot runway is long enough to land a small jet. The airport also has a grass runway generally used for older aircraft.

    Geisinger uses the airfield for medical helicopter training operations. Milton Steel, Reptiland, and several private owners keep their planes in the hangars there.

    “It would be nice to see more businesses activity to use the airport as an economic development tool,” said Craig Lawler, a pilot and co-chairman of the airport authority.

    We hope this happens, and that the Danville airport and the other regional general aviation facilities continue to receive the governmental and community support they need to continue offering vital services to our region.