Eagle Airport a great asset | AspenTimes.com

Eagle Airport a great asset

There seems to be a renewed interest in improving and possibly expanding our airport to accommodate various types of new aircraft. Most of these planes can carry a limited number of passengers (40 to 100 people) from 400 to 2,000 miles.

Before we go to too much expense and trouble, we should recognize that we already have a major national-serving airport just one valley away: the Eagle airport.

Eagle Airport already services 11 major U.S. markets by five carriers: American, Northwest, Delta, United and Continental. One-third of all Aspen visitors traveling by a commercial airline to Aspen already fly to Eagle.

This trend will probably grow, as the Eagle Airport is safer and more accessible year round. It is lower than ours – some 1,300 feet. It is situated in a larger valley. It has better weather.

Also, the runway is longer and wider and can accommodate 757s today. (Eagle’s runway is 1,000 feet longer than Aspen’s. Since it’s altitude is 1,300 feet lower, that is equivalent to approximately 2000 feet more length.)

To me, it is a great asset and benefit to us to have such a major airport not in our valley, yet close. So … why spend a lot of money to bring more planes into our narrow, peaceful little valley, when we don’t need to do so?

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National travelers don’t really need to fly within a few miles of their destination. And I’m not sure they all want to. Clearly, residents of the Roaring Fork Valley aren’t anxious for more air traffic, noise and pollution.

Some say Eagle is too far. Depending on where you live in our valley, Eagle is 20 minutes to an hour and a half away. That really doesn’t seem too far, if you are traveling to or from Boston, Seattle or Miami.

Nonetheless, the trip probably could be shortened. If the county spent dollars it might spend improving Sardy Field on improving Cottonwood Pass, travel times could be reduced by one-third to one-half. After all, the distance from the Eagle airport to our airport is only 40 miles over Cottonwood Pass.

In my opinion, a major airport in the next valley is a great asset to residents and visitors alike in the Roaring Fork Valley. A similar airport in our valley is not.

John McBride

Aspen