OpEd: Don’t Ground Opportunities at East Hampton Airport

East Hampton Airport sign
East Hampton Airport (James J. Mackin)
James J. Mackin

The East Hampton Airport is an instrumental asset to our East End community for countless reasons. In my life, the East Hampton Airport represents opportunity. 

The East Hampton Airport began impacting my life at the age of 4. As a child I would spend time airplane spotting wherever I was, and admiring the aircraft with my father, uncle and grandfather, who are all pilots. My love of aviation was innate and began at a very young age for me as I have always known that this would be the career path I would take.

Fast forward 18 years later, I was presented the opportunity to work at this wonderful airport as a certified flight instructor. As an instructor, I have witnessed first-hand how this airport and the aviation industry in general positively impacts the lives of so many people. My students almost always develop an obsession with aviation from their very first flight lesson, and it is an incredibly beautiful breakthrough to witness happen.  

During my three years as an East Hampton Airport employee, I have seen people develop life-long passions of aviation both as a career choice, and as a crucial part of their life. Aside from people launching their aviation careers at this airport, I have seen pilots rekindle their relationship with their long-distance family because having their pilot’s license made the world a much smaller place. Not only does this airport produce pilots, but because of the copious amounts of money and networking opportunities flowing into here I have seen people launch careers in non-pilot opportunities as well.  

The livelihoods of so many people on the East End of Long Island rely on the money and people utilizing this airport. Should this airport cease to exist in the future, the fact of the matter is that there will be a crippling effect to our East End economy, and the careers/lives of so many people.  The Hamptons would no longer be the Hamptons.

The East Hampton Airport also presents the opportunity to seek medical attention when it is so crucially needed. Our East End community is in a sense, isolated from western Long Island, New York City and the rest of the northeastern United States, where many medical specialists reside.  It is not uncommon to see medical evacuation aircraft come and go to assist people in getting potentially life saving treatment quickly. As an intern pilot in the past, I myself have even flown cancer patients to the city for treatment, and people in need of a heart specialist to Boston. These private medical flights were even paid for by some of the kind people of the Easthampton airport such as the late Krupinski couple. The swift and convenient transportation would not be possible out of our east end community without the opportunity presented by this airport, and can be the difference between life and death.

Yet another opportunity that the East Hampton Airport has presented both myself and my East End community is the opportunity to rescue the lives of homeless dogs and cats. This past December I managed to rescue and fly 15 puppies from one of the many kill shelters in South Carolina to the safety of our East End community and the absolutely incredible people of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF), just right across the street from the East Hampton Airport. I was utterly overwhelmed by the selflessness, support and care shown to this mission by the East End community, the East Hampton Aviation Association, Sound Aircraft Services and so many other kind people of the East Hampton Airport. This mission, as well as the missions I am organizing for the very near future simply cannot happen without the opportunity and support of this airport.

There is an endless list of reasons and examples to prove just how vital this airport is to our community. These are but a few of the many opportunities brought to our community because of this airport, and not just for pilots. Take it from someone who works, teaches and volunteers at this airport almost every day about how important it is. I have read the arguments made by people opposed to this airport, and I invite them to speak to me face to face so I can explain to them how the endless opportunities of the East Hampton Airport outweigh all of their points.

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