Your recent article about Alex Haefele and his candidacy for the York County Council has prompted me to "get off the sideline" regarding the opposition to the Airport Overlay District, which has now turned into general opposition against the airport.
My company, Skytech, is the major provider of services at the airport, including aircraft sales, service, storage, fueling and most transient operations. We arrived in August of 2001, and have invested over $2.5 million in physical improvements, all of which, by the way, will be turned over to the city at the end of our lease. We have 30 highly skilled employees, fully two-thirds of them holding some type of technical license from the FAA ranging from pilot to airframe and powerplant, or avionics technicians. I personally have worked in general aviation for more than 30 years at several different airports. I also am a resident of and homeowner in Rock Hill, and I try to look at all perspectives regarding the airport topics.
My biggest concern is the spreading of inaccurate information about a very technical and sometimes confusing subject. I recently had the opportunity to read Mr. Haefele's letter and attached "technical analysis" of the airport that he reportedly distributed to 2,700 Rock Hill residents. Since no credit for the analysis was given to anyone else, I assume Mr. Haefele wrote it himself.
Errors and omissions
Herein lies the problem. To the uniformed, it may appear accurate. It is, in fact, riddled with errors and omissions. He leads you to believe that the reliever status we enjoy has something to do with airliners landing in Rock Hill. In fact, the opposite is true. Reliever status is term given to airports surrounding a major airport such as Charlotte's, that allows them to accept more general aviation and corporate aircraft, thereby allowing more airline traffic to use the larger airport.
It does not mean we will see airline equipment landing at the Rock Hill/York County Airport. Our runway cannot accept the larger aircraft, and we know that. Our goal is to "relieve" Charlotte of the smaller aircraft. Unfortunately, Mr. Haefele got it exactly backward.
He makes another statement that "it is undeniable that an enlarged Charlotte/Douglas airspace will impact departures from Rock Hill and landings at the Rock Hill Airport." This statement also is not true. All types of aircraft could still use our airport even if the airspace is changed. We are not denied access to any airspace; we just need to request permission to use it. That being said, it appears at this point we will not have any appreciable changes to our immediate surrounding airspace.
The point here is that our citizens deserve accurate and timely information, not fear mongering for political purposes. My suggestion is to get your information from our local city and county leaders. Buddy Motz has taken great pains to become and stay informed on these difficult subjects. Our county manager, Jim Baker, had a recent article on the subject of the airport published in The Herald, and it was both insightful and accurate. These leaders may not have all the answers, but they have the resources to get the right answers, and take great pains not to spread inaccurate information.
If you don't think you have enough data, ask for more. What we don't want to do is just believe everything that is written in the newspaper, Web sites or by private individuals. Attend the meetings and be informed.
Michael Fitzgerald, a Rock Hill resident, is executive vice president of Skytech.
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