Saturday, April 11, 2015

Nonprofit group pushes for growth, welfare of Taunton Municipal Airport (KTAN), Massachusetts

Mike Dupont flies his restored 1946 Piper Cub at Taunton Municipal Airport.

TAUNTON — Taunton Municipal Airport is getting a boost in interest with the recent formation of a nonprofit group of pilots and other supporters of the city-owned, airplane facility.

The Taunton Pilots Association will promote the use and growth of the city-owned TMA, also known as King Field, which got its start in 1919 when Henry King established his own airport in East Taunton.

“We’ve been talking about it for a close to a year,” said TPA president and pilot Melinda Paine-Dupont.

“We wanted to provide a unified voice,” she added. “There are a lot of pilots and a lot of interest in the airport.”

Paine-Dupont said a somewhat-contentious public meeting in December at Taunton City Council chambers that focused on developing a new master plan was not the sole catalyst to establish the TPA — which she said has been around for about a month and has both a dedicated website and Facebook page.

But she said that night’s central issue of finding a way to bring into compliance the airport’s turf-and-gravel runway — the shorter of TMA’s two runways — was an important factor to get the TPA up and running.
“It got us motivated,” she said.

Paine-Dupont said the TPA now has 71 members, including eight pilots from Brockton who share a single plane at the Taunton airport and belong to the Brockton Flying Club, which got its start at King Field in the 1930s.

She said the association is open to pilots and nonpilots alike. Paine-Dupont also said the group is currently in the process of gaining 501 (c)(3) nonprofit status with the state.

More than 100 owners of planes lease hangar space and close to another 20 pilots pay to have their planes tied down outside, according to airport manager Daniel Raposa.

Paine-Dupont also said the TPA in no way will compete or oppose the interest of the TMA’s seven-member commission — which will hold a public meeting Wednesday night at City Hall, to provide residents with an update on what will be the first new master plan in more than a dozen years.

A viable master plan is vital in terms of a small, municipal airport qualifying for capital-improvement grants from both the Federal Aviation Administration and the state’s MassDOT Aeronautics Division.

Wednesday’s meeting will include a presentation by James Miklas, director of aviation planning for Woburn-based Airport Solutions Group LLC, which has been retained by the airport commission to form a new Master Plan.

Paine-Dupont said she foresees more involvement in the TPA and is optimistic for the advocacy it will provide to enable the airport to keep up with the times and become more of an aeronautic player in the southeast region.

 “You can’t complain if you don’t voice your opinions,” she said.

Original article can be found here:

Taunton Pilots Association president and pilot Melinda Paine-Dupont is seated in the 1946 Piper Cub.

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