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Letter: Pilot-in-training dismayed by airport closure

I was shocked and disappointed when I read the article by Teri Cadeau about the immediate closure of the Silver Bay airport (“Silver Bay airport closes,” June 9 News-Chronicle).

As a pilot in training, I am aware of the inherent and dynamic dangers of flying along the North Shore, notably fast-changing weather, wind and foggy conditions.

As noted by another pilot in the article, the safety concern of distance between airports is of a critical nature. The closure of Silver Bay will further degrade small plane aviation — dramatically, I fear. It seems foolish of the State and municipality to have allowed this condition to persist. I implore the State, FAA and Silver Bay to find a solution and keep this important resource available for the flying public. The short-notice of the closure has stranded planes with difficult relocation issues to overcome.

I challenge all to consider, in addition, the consequences to the flying public, tourist economy, vitality of Silver Bay and surrounding communities and develop a sustainable plan to get the airport back online ASAP. Many small communities have faced and overcome the same challenge. There is real value in having a small airport resource for the public, emergency/safety personnel, commerce and tourism that is being overlooked.

Let’s consider what other small communities have done to maintain and keep their airports open; Solon Springs, Wis., comes to mind. Please don’t continue a trend of losing all our small, community-owned and operated airfields. Silver Bay is very important to us as an emergency location, and destination along the North Shore corridor.

As for this “almost” pilot, I can hardly think of flying up to Grand Marais without the option of another airport between there and Two Harbors. The risk seems too great!

Lynda Bohlsen

Hovland and St. Paul