I have been closely following the ongoing discussions regarding the proposed purchase of Eisenberg Airport. As a resident of Coupeville, I wish to provide a perspective from someone who is not a pilot, but who would nevertheless benefit from and appreciate the purchase and expansion of our airport.
I am fortunate to have grown up in Coupeville and to have recently returned to raise my growing family here. This is possible thanks to the increasing flexibility of remote work. I know that many other young families have been able to make similar moves to the island in the past few years.
Despite the flexibility remote work offers, it does not eliminate the need for occasional off-island travel. Many of us, including myself, must travel out of state multiple times a month. Currently, this requires navigating the strained ferry system and enduring hours of Seattle traffic to get to SeaTac. Direct air shuttle service to the island would significantly enhance our ability to sustainably live and work here.
Expanding the airport will also have substantial positive impacts on summer tourism, while reducing the burden on the parts of our transportation system that are under the most pressure. At present, the majority of tourists arrive by car, putting added load on our ferry system, roads and town parking infrastructure. Our island offers numerous hospitality options that would be ideal for car-free visits if only there were a more accessible means of arrival. A fully functional airport, in conjunction with private shuttle services and our existing island transit system, would enable more visitors to enjoy our community without the burden of bringing a vehicle.
As a final point, anyone who grew up here likely remembers a time when airport service was a normal part of living on the island. Talking with friends about the airport project has brought up many memories of taking first flights to SeaTac as a child, or picking up a visiting grandparent when they landed. It’s important to remember that the idea of a functioning airport here on Whidbey is not a futuristic pipe dream. It’s a return to something we took for granted only 20 years ago.
I have seen many comments implying that only pilots and aviation enthusiasts would benefit from investing in the airport. I respectfully but firmly disagree, and I hope that our commissioners will not be swayed by the fact that the many people who would most benefit – namely young professionals, parents, and summer visitors – are precisely those people who are less likely to have time or interest to write letters to the editor.
The benefits of maintaining and enhancing our airport are clear, and I urge our community and the port commissioners to support this valuable resource.