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Perry Heath appointed to Carlisle Airport committee

This article was published on Cumberlink.com on April 16, 2016.

When the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation made a presentation to the Carlisle Borough Council centered on investigating the future of the airport via an exploratory committee, Councilman Perry Heath volunteered to represent the borough almost immediately.

His flight knowledge and personal experience at the Carlisle Airport helped spur that decision.

“I’ve held a private pilot’s license for almost 38 years,” Heath said. “I have a working knowledge of airport operations and procedures that may be of some value to the process. I think I understand the economic impact of airport operations from its internal contribution to the contribution made by all those who fly in and out of Carlisle.”

CAEDC is investigating the idea of shifting the Carlisle Airport from private to public ownership. Mary Kuna, business attraction manager with CAEDC, told The Sentinel back in February that the airport cannot currently receive federal aviation funds because it is privately owned. However, the airport would become eligible for federal funding if it became publicly owned.

The way to make that shift is to construct a “task force,” as Heath called it, made up of representatives from the municipalities in the greater Carlisle area to work out and explore all of the options.

“This business plan will be the catalyst for public ownership, demonstrate the value of public ownership and how a public regional airport will serve as a regional economic driver for our county,” said Jonathan Bowser, CEO of CAEDC.

So far, participating municipalities have assigned the following representatives: Dave Smith for North Middleton Township; Don Geistwhite for Middlesex Township; Perry Heath for Carlisle; Bryan Gembusia for South Middleton Township. Dickinson and Monroe townships have yet to decide who will represent them.

The airport has existed since 1963. Since the 1990s, it has been led by a six-person group of investors helmed by local aviator Jim Kingsborough.

Heath began taking lessons in the 70s, and while there have been gaps of inactivity over the years, he has to date 500 hours of accumulated airtime in a single engine aircraft.

“I am not instrument rated, but (I’m) a fair weather pilot who just enjoys an occasional leisurely flight up and down the Cumberland Valley,” he said.

Bowser said he expects the task force’s first meeting to take place in May, with final recommendation by the committee sometime around the end of the year.

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