Airport businesses suffer from no planes

Malcolm Redwine, owner of Silver Sky Aviation, is out of airplanes to fix.

"I feel like the Maytag man," he said. "There's nothing going on. Absolutely nothing."

At the Carson City Airport, air traffic is down to two or three planes a day. The Federal Aviation Administration grounded general aviation, which includes small aircraft, following last week's terrorist attacks.

Small fixed-based operators like Redwine are feeling the pinch of a week with no business. To make matters worse, Redwine said there is talk "if they're ever going to let us fly again."

"Say people couldn't go eat in restaurants, how long do you think they would last?" Redwine asked. "(Aviation) is our business, and it's not working right now. We do nothing but sit here and watch the wind go by. We're all hurting."

Airport Manager Yvonne Weaver said the FAA hasn't given her new regulations which have allowed commercial airports around the country to open under heightened security.

Pilots are allowed to fly from Carson City only if they've filed a flight plan and fly by instruments. Much of the air traffic from Carson is flight instruction and "people usually go into Reno or to Placerville for breakfast." Few, she said, fly by instruments.

Pilots who would land here to take advantage of lower fuel prices can't come. Fuel tanks sit full because pilots from the canceled Reno Air Races couldn't buy it.

Major airlines are pushing Congress for billions of dollars in aid, an opportunity not afforded to the small aviation-related businesses which continue to suffer, said Dennis Buehn, owner of American Warbirds, a company which restores, flies and maintains vintage sea planes and World Wart II-era planes.

"A week ago (Tuesday) jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center," Buehn said. "None of the little airplanes we have, Cessnas, Pipers, Beach crafts could cause that devastation. Why are we being punished?"

Buehn estimates "countless thousands of dollars" lost in business, and with no news from the FAA fears planes could be grounded long enough to run some businesses into the ground.

"If airplanes can't fly, turn it into an industrial park out here," he said.


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