Av-Stak Systems Inc. Supports
Albert Whitted Airport
You are probably wondering why Av-Stak, (or a model train store which is where I earn most of my living today), would be supporting an airport.
When I got out of the Navy back in 1965 I moved my family to St. Petersburg, Florida because of the wonderful downtown waterfront airport known as Albert Whitted Airport.
Although I was not a pilot at the time it was in the back of my mind that someday I may want to learn to fly or even to earn my living as a pilot. It wasn't long before I earned my private license while working two jobs to support my family and my new found hobby.
Almost immediately I began working on my commercial licence and within a short time I had acquired that commercial license along with an instrument rating, multi engine rating, flight instructor rating, ground instructor ratings and more. I guess you could say that I was hooked.
I earned my living as a flight instructor and corporate pilot here in St. Petersburg at the Albert Whitted Airport for more than ten years before going to work for Piper Aircraft Corporation. Although I moved several times during my more than 40 years working as a commercial pilot I always considered St. Petersburg my real home.
Unfortunately some of the city officials of St. Petersburg don't seem to have the same fondness for this historic airport that I do. It is under constant attack by developers who could care less about its heritage or the fact that many other business people moved here for some of the same reasons that I did.
Many of our customers at H&R Trains routinely fly into the Albert Whitted Airport when shopping in our store. We fly our own airplane to service our customers all over the South Eastern United States. We build train layouts for restaurants, hospitals, theme parks, doctors offices, dental clinics, and for private individuals. I simply could not service our customers as well without the convenience and utility that our downtown airport offers.
We also fly our airplane from Albert Whitted Airport spreading the word about the Av-Stak Systems Multi level Hangars which are fully automated, fully computerized, airplane hangars which can be built up to a category five hurricane standards.
Albert Whitted Airport brings other business to St. Petersburg as well. This airport is extremely valuable for attracting commerce to the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. More than half of the100,000 take off and landings each year are by aircraft from somewhere other than St. Petersburg.
The airport provides jobs for over 300 people. Bay Flight operates one of the largest and most successful Air Ambulance Services in the country right here in downtown St. Petersburg. The Florida Highway Patrol, the United States Coast Guard, The Civil Air Patrol, and others all use Albert Whitted Airport. There are so many other organizations that use the airport to provide vital service to our community that it would be hard to recognize them all.
The Albert Whitted Airport has a very historic past. On October 11, 2013 the airport celebrateed Its 85th. Anniversary, although the field has actually been around much longer. Albert Whitted Airport is internationally recognized as the birthplace of scheduled airline flight. On January 1, 1914, a small airboat took off from the water adjacent to this airport, on the first regularly scheduled airline flight in history. That flight took place only eleven years after the Wright Brothers first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1929 Goodyear christened the Mayflower which was its first commercial blimp. It also became the first Florida Based Goodyear airship right here at the Albert Whitted Airport. In May of 1934 National Airlines was founded at Albert Whitted Airport in hangar #1 on the south west corner of the airport.
Over the past few years other smaller but smarter communities have built new General Aviation Terminal Buildings and made other improvements to help attract air commerce and new business to their communities. Orlando Executive, St. Augustine, Kissimmee, Lakeland, Sebring, Charlotte County, Plant City, and Tampa's Executive airport, Winter Haven, Bartow and others have all built new General Aviation Terminals. Most were built with Florida Department of Transportation funds and other grants without draining their local treasuries.
In November of 2003 the citizens of St. Petersburg sent a crystal clear message to the city government in St. Petersburg. 73% of the voters said they wanted a new amendment to the city charter that would require the city to keep our Albert Whitted Airport "FOREVER"
The mayor and city council appointed a blue ribbon task force to study the airport and make recommendations on how to best make our airport the best general aviation airport in the country if not the world. I was very fortunate to have been appointed as one of the nineteen members of this task force and I am pleased to have been a part of this very important event in our city history.
After nearly a year of countless hours of research and weekly meetings the Task Force delivered "Our Vision of Tomorrow" for the Albert Whitted Airport to the St. Petersburg City Council.
The report contains 36 recommendations including a new Control Tower, a new Terminal Building, runway improvements, public viewing areas, a Park with hiking and bike trails, an aviation themed playground, a war memorial and much more.
If these recommendations were implemented by our city officials in a timely manner it would bring our airport up to current FAA standards and would help to make the airport more user friendly and also a safer and more self supporting facility. If these recommendations are carried out we will all benefit from our airport well into the future.
Things tend to move very slowly however in city government. It is very important for all of us to do our part and keep reminding our city officials about the importance of our airport.
A new General Aviation Terminal Building was finally completed in 2007, and a new restaraunt finally opened in 2010. There is a new Albert Whitted Park, along with public viewing areas, green spaces with bicycle and hiking trails, Picnic areas and much more. There is also a new Air Traffic Control Tower which was put into service early in 2012.
It has become quite clear that the mayor and city staff have ignored some of the most important recommendations made by the task force. These recommendations were all to have been included in the updated "Airport Master Plan" and were formulated in a way that would have made our airport more self supporting and much safer for those who use our airport. These recommendations are not all included in that master plan!
One of the ideas that came about as a result of our research for our airport was the Av-Stak Systems hangar concept. The Av-Stak hangar would have allowed 360 aircraft or more in a single multi-story hangar. This new Hangar could be built to category five hurricane standards, on only three acres of airport land, which would have saved more than twenty five acres over conventional construction techniques. This saving of valuable land would have allowed for more aviation development on the airport that could help the airport to become more self supporting.
The idea was rejected by the Blue Ribbon Task Force, along with the Mayor and city staff however.. Several other aviation businesses have been turned away as well by our city because of the apparent lack of space to accommodate them.
Av-Stak has moved on to other areas of the country where local officials are more supportive of their airports and the important air commerce and new businesses that they bring to their communities.
Thank you for supporting Av-Stak Systems, Inc. and H&R Trains and also for supporting our wonderful downtown waterfront and Albert Whitted Airport.
Av-Stak Systems, Inc. Vice President, Director of Aviation Technology, Board Member and Web Master.
Also Co-owner along with my wife Alice of H&R Trains Inc.
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There is a Patent on our Av-Stak Systems Inc. Multi-Story Hangar Concept and Design.