Brian Bray: Small airports valued

I noticed in the Sound Off that the issue of closing the Steamboat airport has come up again. Closing small airports is a nationwide problem, one that is not taken lightly by the general aviation community. Skyrocketing land values overshadow the need and utility of a "small group."

Pilots and general aviation have always been viewed as a rich man's hobby, but, anyone who has earned a pilot's certificate or is involved with general aviation knows how important keeping small airports open is. Airports provide access for pilots as much as gas stations, parking garages and auto dealerships do for the driving public.That the number of pilots is lower does not decrease its importance.

My father, John, and a farsighted group of citizens of Northwest Colorado helped build this field from a sagebrush flat. For years it was a dirt strip, some rustic hangars, and a hand pump gas pump. These men flew search and rescue, forest fire watch, herded cattle, transported patients and, yes, flew their little planes, "for fun."

He watched it grow into a modern hub of aviation, with commercial flights, medical transport, maintenance facilities and tourists. Yes, tourists. Folks have been flying into Bob Adams Field for years, as steady as the stream of cars coming across Rabbit Ears Pass. Bob Adams, owner of Energy Fuels Coal Co. provided his equipment several times to help improve the airport.

I grew up at that airport, standing in the shade of the wing of our little Piper, listening to the adventures and dreams of great men with vision for the future. Their part of helping Steamboat grow was aviation.

It was important then and it is important now. Don't let commercial development erase the hard work and commitment of the aviation community in the continued support of Northwest Colorado.

Brian Bray

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