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Bruce Bennett responds to allegations that airport interests are spearheading term limits ballot measure

After reading last week's "Opinion" page with an article and a letter critically excoriating the Aurora Airport I feel the need to defend the airport and correct some of the outrageous allegations.

Having begun my aviation career at Aurora in 1973 I feel fairly knowledgeable about the airport. The main theme of these very negative pieces was Wilsonville's ''Term Limits" ballot measure. The Aurora Airport is in Marion County, the runway and taxi-way are owned by the state and managed by it according to very strict Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. I can assure you — the airport has absolutely no interest or concern with Wilsonville politics! There are approximately 1,300 employees working for various aviation companies at the Aurora Airport ("essential" by the way although many have been laid off, some are working from home and others have gone to day/night shifts to maintain separation, but that's another story). Approximately 40% of these employees live in Clackamas County, certainly many of these in Wilsonville. I have no idea or interest in how they vote. I do know that Tualatin voted in term limits some years ago without any input from the airport. I do know that Wilsonville has had the same mayor since 2009 and that Wilsonville has major traffic issues. I have heard that Wilsonville City Council members including the mayor have or had commercial real estate investments on Boones Ferry Road and Villebois that may be conflicts of interest but that is just anecdotal. (Editor's Note: Wilsonville councilors recuse themselves from topics in which they have a conflict of interest).

The other main "made-up" theme of these articles is the idea of changing the airport. There are NO plans to make any change to the type of aircraft using the airport. I can tell you from personal experience that heart-transplant flights use ONLY business jet aircraft, the same with the Aurora Airport based Air-Ambulance, not just because they're faster but because they're safer and quieter! Just like the Aurora Airport company that provides electrical power to cities across the nation using its jet or the helicopter companies that use jets to support their fire-fighting. This will not change. The lengthening that has been in public plans since 1976 (and will put us as #11 lengthwise in Oregon, up from our current #31) will only make current operations more safe and more efficient. Jet fuel by the way contains NO lead! The normal approved air-traffic pattern (since 1943) does fly over Charbonneau (est. 1974). We voluntarily avoid this but only when not required (it's a little complicated) as it commonly is. Today's aircraft are far smaller and far quieter than the WWII converted prop freighter aircraft that used to take off here. We will continue to improve with technology, with sound levels, and hopefully with safety if we leave it to the FAA and the engineering experts. Thank you.


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