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 The term ?Catch-22? flew around the Sedona Airport Restaurant more than any aircraft above the mesa, Wednesday, Feb. 7.

By Nate Hansen
Larson Newspapers

The term ?Catch-22? flew around the Sedona Airport Restaurant more than any aircraft above the mesa, Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Though paradoxical topics flew around loosely, discussion for a future control tower at Sedona Airport stood firm. Sedona Citizens Noise Abatement Committee, otherwise known as SNAC, listened and laughed over events of late.

Aspen, Telluride, Sedona — these were three words that defined the trend for ?high-end tourism,? according to Sedona Airport Manager Mac McCall.

SNAC-2-9.jpg McCall recently returned from the Southwest Airport Executives Conference in Monterey, Calif., where the nation?s foremost airport authorities spoke about red rock country.

McCall held up a stack of affluent lifestyle magazines, each one dog-eared to specific pages. Pages of Cigar Aficionado, Departures, Jet Setting Magazine and Elite listed advertisements promoting local resorts.

Another magazine, Private Air Magazine, showed actor and director Clint Eastwood on the cover. Again, inside — more resorts.

?The airport does not market itself,? McCall hinted firmly.

McCall said, according to Arizona Department of Economic Security, the Sedona Airport brought in an estimated $21 million to the local economy last year.

With an estimated 50,000 landings, the airport made $1.6 million in 2006. This total is up from the $600,000 it grossed seven years ago before McCall was manager.

After McCall proved one point with statistics and visual aids, he elaborated on another.

?The Sedona Airport is getting a control tower for safety and security. Safety and security, that?s it,? he repeated.

McCall described the benefits of the planned ?Class D? manned control tower.

The control tower offers a 5-mile radius of controlled airspace over Greater Sedona, he said.

Pilot Mike Muetzel added controlled

airspace requires pilots to be more

conscientious of their actions.

?A lot of people aren?t checking procedures. Control towers increase their responsibility,? Muetzel said.

?In short, there?d be no more flyboy stuff,? SNAC Chairman Cole Greenberg added.

Muetzel believes the control tower will act as a deterrent to the tourist planes that ?buzz the red rocks.? Numerous pilots tend to avoid controlled airspace, as it requires advisories as well as regulations, he explained.

The committee discussed possibilities of preventing flights over wilderness areas, in participation with the U.S. Forest Service, an active member of SNAC. According to the Wilderness Act of 1964, forest areas are protected from various intrusions including aircraft.

Seven years ago, SNAC formed with the intention to combat noise pollution coming from the mesa?s airport.

Greenberg recalled what ignited the committee.

He was at a dedication ceremony at Cathedral Rock performed by the late Mayor Ivan Finley.

?During the ceremony, five planes flew overhead, interrupting the mayor?s speech,? he said.

Now, Greenberg is surprised to hear anything, he said. He attributes the decrease in noise pollution to SNAC and the progress it initiated less than a decade ago.

SNAC members reminisced about their first meeting. Pilots, non-pilots, city officials and people who straddled the fence all met in ?controlled chaos.?

According to Greenberg, people yelled back and forth at each other.

?Shut the airport down.?

?You move.?

?Get some earplugs.?

According to Muetzel, rumors of a housing development taking over the airport surfaced.

The airport?s present conditions are analogous to SNAC?s first meeting, committee members felt. They felt if they aren?t controlled, there may be uncontrolled chaos.

?The airport is doing everything it can to cooperate with the community,? McCall said.

Advisories and noise abatement regulations are posted at the end of each taxiway.

Tourist companies are notified regularly to respect the airspace, although it isn?t controlled.

Maverick Helicopters is expecting its second EchoStar helicopters. This model is built with state-of-the-art ?quiet technology.?

McCall added taxes don?t cover airport expenses.

It?s ?100 percent self-supporting,? he said.

Greenberg agreed.

He said members of SNAC even went door-to-door to several housing associations in order to gain support for the control tower.

Those in dissent showed ?very little

specific concern.? They were ?just upset,? he said.

McCall recalled a weekend in May when over 150 jets dropped off passengers at the airport. Nobody complained, but dozens drove up to look at the planes. Irony, he added.

According to McCall, the only thing SNAC is waiting for now is money from the Aviation Funding Reauthorization Bill.

Afterward, he believes the Federal Aviation Administration will pick up 75 percent of the costs to build the control tower, leaving the rest to the airport — not the taxpayers.

The airport even received an Arizona state grant to do a site study to find the best location for the control tower, McCall added.

?The next step is getting the control tower. There?s not much else I can do,? McCall admitted.

McCall said he can only assume local businesses, and perhaps the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, are responsible for making Sedona so popular — in turn, the airport so busy.

He?s happy knowing his town is recognized internationally, but he?d like some support, explaining the growth and need for a control tower to residents. The responsibility needs to be shared by all, he said.

It?s only the second month in 2007 and there are big plans underway for Sedona Airport, McCall said.

He said $5 million will go to projects that will resurface a taxiway, build a service road around the airport and update its security and safety.

McCall said he?s getting ready for the influx of people coming to visit and vacation. He asked, is Sedona ready?


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