Just before 7 am on May 20, 2009, Rich MacIsaac, manager of Northampton Airport, attempting to be the first pilot to take off and land at all 39 of the public use airports in Massachusetts…in one day!
“I hope this will bring awareness to general aviation in Massachusetts,” MacIsaac said, “most people can’t believe we have 39 public use airports in the state.”
Three of the airports have grass runways. The shortest is in Marlboro with a 1600 foot landing strip with obstacles at both ends. “I am pretty sure we were the smallest plane landing at Logan in a while,” he noted.
MacIsaac tackled this aviation challenge in a . Northampton’s CTLS is a top of the line Light Sport with a glass cockpit, great visibility and a cruise speed of 112 knots. As head flight instructor at Northampton Aeronautics, MacIsaac hopes to gain some well-deserved exposure for the Light Sport as well as inspire people to train. “Whether you are completely new to aviation or have flown aircraft before, a Sport Pilot License may be for you,” says MacIsaac. This license allows for easier and lower-cost access for enthusiasts wishing to participate in the joy of flight.
In addition to calling attention to the Light Sport program, MacIsaac’s flight raised money and donations to help the Northampton Survival Center through this event. The Survival Center is an emergency food pantry which provides low-income individuals and families in 16 Hampshire County communities with free food, clothing and household goods.
“We collected almost $1000 as well as several crates of non-perishable foods for the center’s Kids’ Summer Food Program,” said the airport’s marketing manager, Holly Lurgio. “During the summer months, this program provides breakfast and lunch foods to children who receive free or subsidized meals through their school.” People came in to the airport and chose a leg of the flight to sponsor either with food or monetary donations. “It is important to reach out and support the communities that have been so supportive of us,” says Lurgio.
At a reception in Washington, DC held in early November, the National Aeronautic Association recognized MacIsaac for his record for Fastest Time to Visit All the Hard Surface Public Use Airports in Massachusetts. He completed his flight in a record setting 10 hours, 10 minutes, 50 seconds.
“This winter, our plan is to work on creating a club that encourages others to visit all those same airports,” MacIsaac said. “The trip doesn’t have to be completed it in a day, but we’d love it if Massachusetts general aviation pilots climbed aboard and accepted this challenge!”