Friday, January 20, 2012

Tough to beat an airport for open space. Solberg-Hunterdon Airport (N51), Readington, New Jersey.


What was more “Open Space” than an airport founded in rural Hunterdon Country, New Jersey in 1941? There was no urban sprawl; there wasn’t any sprawl at all. There were no cell towers, there were no schools off the end of the runway and there was no one nearby to complain about noise.

Everyone who has moved into that area since knew and, could not help but know, that there was a local active airport in Readington. If they were not willing to accept the “noise” or “hazards” they associate with an airport they should not have moved there.

For at least the past 15 years there have been continuous and mean attempts by township officials to close the airport in the name of “Open Space.” But what is more “Open Space” than an airport? Except for the holes in the ground it is as open space as a golf course. The very idea that you can condemn an airport based on the concept that you are saving “Open Space” is some kind of joke. It is a great testimony to the citizens of Readington that they are so willing to contribute their tax dollars for “Open Space” that is already “Open Space.” Is this now the true definition of an “environmentalist:” Buy open space to be open space?

How many of you have seen small local airports like Solberg in the areas where you grew up? How many of those are still there? How many new small airports have you seen built and opened since the time you grew up? I do not know of one. These small airports are actually a national treasure and are the only place a person can safely and economically learn an aviation skill. Some may even be the future pilot of a commercial flight you may take some day. Or maybe you would rather that pilot be some alien recruited from England because the United States has no place to train new pilots.

Few of our future aviators will come from the military because there are not that many military pilots being trained any more and in the future there will be even fewer. Many say that airlines should be required to train their own crews and that might well be true. But where do you think this training is going to take place, Newark Airport? It will happen at small fields like Solberg that will only get bigger when those airlines begin looking for training fields.

Maybe they should be careful to what they donate those tax dollars because what they get in place of Solberg Airport may be a lot more objectionable than an airport that accommodates small aircraft and is “Open Space.”

Joseph Hitzel


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