ALPENA - The Michigan Aviation Association has been holding its Michigan Air Tour since 1928 as a way to promote aviation and educate about the economic impact air travel has on communities. On Sunday the tour, which had about 30 planes, made a stop at the Alpena County Regional Airport for the first time since 2007. While at the airport, MAA President Bob Shafer presented a proclamation from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder that designated September 'Aviation Month' in the state.
Airport Manager Billi McRoberts said the MAA has the tour each year, but it only makes a stop in Alpena periodically because it wants to spread its message to all of the communities in Michigan that have airports.
"The group is a non-profit corporation formed to operate exclusively for charity, as well as scientific and educational purposes," McRoberts said. "They have the annual tour visit, they stagger the airports they visit, so they only stop in Alpena every four or five years."
Out of the 30 aircraft that took part in the tour, a majority stopped in Alpena to take part in the ceremony.
"Not all of the planes landed because of some impending weather, but I would say there was about 25 of them," McRoberts said. "The Experimental Aircraft Association hosted a lunch for them, and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center did a tour of the base. It seemed like they liked the airport and Alpena."
McRoberts said Shafer gave a brief presentation about how much money an airport brings into the local community before presenting Alpena County Commissioner Gerald Fournier the proclamation from the governor.
"Shafer said according to the Michigan Department of Transportation, an airport can bring as much as $9 million a year to a community, and that is a large impact," McRoberts said. "It really shows the importance of having a local airport."
Shafer said in a press release that the close relationship between the airport and the CRTC help everybody.
"Because Alpena is a dual-use airport, with both civilian and military traffic, we think it's an excellent example of how a regional airport can benefit even those citizens who never physically use the facility. Citizens of our state, indeed our nation, all derive benefit from the activities at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center," Shafer said. "Add to that the scheduled airline service which operates out of Alpena, and it's clear that your airport is a vital resource for more than just northern Michigan."
McRoberts said Shafer also talked about how investment in airports is important and how money spent on airport operations may be more beneficial than other means of transportation.
"He said 'if you spend a million dollars, it will allow you to get down that stretch of road, but if you spend a million dollars on a runway, it will get you anywhere in the world.' I thought that was very interesting and a good point," she said.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.