Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about a group of Maine organizations that were profiting off of the goodness of you and me.  These organizations were taking advantage of government programs to enrich themselves.  Little did I know what would come out in the days surrounding that last column and how it would make the money received by the museums and garden look like pocket change. 

We have come to learn that the Brunswick Executive Airport is in the midst of receiving more than $40 million over the next 10 years for airport improvements.  In the most recent reporting, it was also stated that the airport is getting more than $6 million additional dollars for a number of upgrades including new hangars and other amenities.   

Not too shabby.  But wait.  There’s more. 

The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) has boasted about their yearly numbers of flight operations.  The airport claims that they are at 26,000 “flight operations” per year.  When I have previously questioned what makes a flight operation the good folks who run the MRRA Facebook page said they were takeoffs or landings. 

26,000 seems really impressive.  It was reported that “…most days the skies are peppered with planes.”  That must mean that every day the airport has aircraft waiting to land.  Circling and waiting for their chance to line up and swoop in.  In reality, there are around 71 flight operations per day.  That is right, only 71.  Broken down further that means that there are less than three flight operations per hour. 

Now I am not saying that there seems to be something funny with the numbers but if you live near the airport do you see or hear something take off or land every 21 minutes?  I say 21 minutes because that would be the interval of flight operations for a 24-hour airport?  If you reduce the daily number of hours of operation by 8 hours, because it is a rarity when something comes in or leaves at night, then you have a plane taking off or landing every 13.5 minutes. 

It would be exceedingly rare to see that frequency of operations.  In fact, I have spent many an hour sitting at or near the terminal building at the airport and often see no activity in the air.  Or on the ground for that fact.   

The aspirations of what the airport could be are not matched by what the airport is currently.  With five other airports within 30 miles of Brunswick, the airport may never reach the potential nor be able to justify the enormous outlay of funds that are being dumped into it. 

Are we, as taxpayers, getting our monies worth out of the Brunswick Executive Airport?  Think of that nearly $50 million in free money from the Federal Aviation Administration.  In decades past this sort of money would have been called pork.  Now it is called a grant and we all feel better about it.  Do you think someone in Washington actually looked at how many planes and “flight operations” take place yearly, monthly, daily, and even stopped to think of what it actually meant?   

The airport boasts an impressive number of planes that call the place home.  According to multiple sources, there are between 35 and 45 planes that call the airport home.  Unfortunately, most of those aircraft are single-engine planes.  What does this mean?  Well, it means that the planes are so small that the number of passengers is often outnumbered by the number of wheels that the plane lands on.  The airport hosts a squadron of small aircraft.   

With five airports within 30 miles of Brunswick that could handle the level of traffic that comes into and out of the airport is it wise to spend the millions on such a facility?  

Should we be shelling out mega millions to have, essentially, a private airstrip for the likes of Roger Goodell and some folks who fly their kids in to start the school year?  Those millions could be better spent on things like paving roads.  At least there would certainly be more people using those paved roads than the runways at the airport.     

In one of the news articles about the money being thrown at the airport, it was mentioned that the airport currently has a hangar that could house six large 737 jetliners.  It was said to be, “a pretty hangar” that could accommodate larger companies set of taking off from Brunswick.  We have heard this sort of, “Build it and they will come” mentality before.  Oxford Aviation and Kestrel, to name just a few, all promised that there were plans to move in entire fleets of aircraft.  Those plans never materialized.   

The only way we are going to see any 737s parked at the airport is if Boeing leases the hangar space to park their troubled Max’s on the aprons. 

Brunswick and indeed the entire nation is being taken for a ride in the wild blue yonder and we’re never even going to get to leave the ground. 

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]

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