Aurora Airport Improvement Association Rolls Out New ‘Friends’ Initiative

The Aurora Airport Improvement Association has rolled out a new long-term initiative that they say is intended to highlight the impact and significance the airport has in the local area. The initiative, Friends of Aurora Airport, will highlight the people and businesses that collectively contribute to the airport’s safety, preparedness and success since 1943.

The campaign includes a website and social media aimed at promoting a positive and educational view of the airport, its history, its purposes and its impact on local businesses, government and communities.

“The Aurora State Airport is home to dozens of local businesses that do important work that is mission-critical to our surrounding communities,” said Bruce Bennett, President of Aurora Aviation. “The airport has so many people — pilots, mechanics, medical professionals, maintenance technicians, administrative staff, and others — that drive the success of our communities every day.”

Originally established as an auxiliary base to support the United States war effort during World War II, the Aurora State Airport has grown into the third-busiest airport in Oregon and a major contributor to the local and state economy, sustaining nearly 1,300 living wage jobs on the airport, according to the press release announcing the new initiative.

“This campaign allows us to give appreciation to all of the people that contribute to the safe operations that our communities rely on,” said Tony Helbling, logistics manager for Wilson Construction. “We are thrilled to tell the story of the airport and all of the important work that it does on a daily basis to support our communities, friends, and neighbors.”

The website also contains information about the airport’s proposed runway extension, which would increase from 5,000 feet to 6,000 feet. Friends of the Aurora Airport seems to be in favor of the extension, saying it is “both needed and overdue,” and would mean safer operations for airport users and area residents.

However, the extension is opposed by the cities of Wilsonville and Aurora, land use advocacy groups and a number of local residents, who fear the proposal would bring larger, louder aircraft — and more of them — and who have been increasingly critical of the process used by proponents up to this point.

The bulk of the matter currently resides with the Oregon State Land Use Board of Appeals, commonly called LUBA. A number of appeals have been filed against an Oct. 31 decision by the Oregon Aviation Board.

That decision essentially cleared the way for the runway extension, which was laid out in the airport’s master plan. The problem lies with the plan itself, which opponents say was never actually approved or adopted back in 2012, as it should have been. A LUBA decision could come any day now, or it could take months.

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