8:57 AM

Let’s get ready to RUMBLE in South Florida

In the red corner, weighing in at $100 million are the developers of Orchid Island, a proposed condominium complex that the FAA is considering for approval. And in the blue corner, the FAA, AOPA, Lee County Port Authority, the Florida Department of Transportation, some really peeved business owners and the pilots who fly from or base at FMY, Page Field Airport in Fort Myers.

All sixteen of Orchid Island’s buildings will be nine stories tall – and its location is way less than a mile straight down the center line from FMY’s main runway.

So here we go…again. Developers who think what they are doing is far more valuable to Fort Myers than FMY. But, they would be wrong. From the airport’s web site:

Page Field General Aviation Airport serves over 90 thousand aircraft operations per year, bases 300 aircraft, and generates an annual economic impact of more than $35 million. Airport operations generate salaries totaling $17 million and support 850 jobs. Airport tenants provide more than 150 jobs, and business generated by general aviation visitors create 375 jobs, and an additional 300-plus jobs in the community are supported by airport operations. Tenants have a total economic impact of more than $13 million while private and corporate aircraft passengers using Page Field as a gateway to Southwest Florida add more than $22 million to the local economy each year.
God, this stuff just fries me. The developers are chomping at the bit to get started, and you just know that once built and sold, it won’t be long before residents start bitching about noise from all those damned airplanes that are skimming by just off the top of their home. Next, the residents will band together and sign petitions to close that nuisance down the street.

Well, I’ve got news for all those new Orchid Island condo owners…THE AIRPLANES WERE THERE FIRST!!! FMY has been part of Lee County since November 1, 1924. This field has some serious history, and you would think that these builders could find another chuck of dirt to develop. Hey, I know a dude who has swamp land in Florida for sale…

Who will win this tug o’war? Will it be the legendary clout of the notorious Florida developers, or the combined might of the pilots, AOPA, the FAA, LPA, FL DOT et al? To stay tuned, visit AOPA’s site, or check out this article posted on the NBC affiliate tv station's web site in the Fort Myers area.

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And to all South Florida pilots, THIS IS YOUR CALL TO ACTION! Don't wait, let your voice be heard...remember Concord, CA and Buchanan Field...you guys CAN WIN THIS!!!

Here are a few points of contact for pilots wishing to get involved with this issue:

AOPA Members can contact the FMY Airport Support Volunteer:
Volunteer Name: MARK TWOMBLY

Find out more about the AOPA Support network. Send email AOPA for airport support info here.

Orlando Airports District Office
5950 Hazeltine National Dr., Suite 400
Orlando, FL 32822-5024
Phone: (407) 812-6331
FAX: (407) 812-6978
Email: 7-aso-orl-ado@faa.gov
Manager: Dean Stringer

Federal Aviation Administration
Airports Division - Southern Region
1701 Columbia Ave.
College Park, GA 30337
Voice: (404) 305-6700
Fax: (404) 305-6730

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