SCAG's Community Involvement Handbook

CommuniQuest developed a Community Involvement Handbook for Airport Managers funded by Southern California Association of Governments and the FAA. The handbook discusses techniques for conflict resolution and facilitation as well as meeting planning, working with the media and other outreach programs.

Community involvement


Excerpt: Involving and Supporting Local Education

A fun and effective way of gaining grassroots support for an aviation business or airport is through your community's educational system. You will not find a more receptive audience. Teachers and students often get excited about the field of aviation and careers in aviation. Whether you work with one facility in an Adopt-A-School program or with local educators across all educational levels to design Aviation Teaching Modules, an educational program's only limits are your staff's imagination and creativity.

The key to the success of all aviation educational programs is the successful collaboration of teachers and aviation experts as they work together to develop the presentation materials. Achieving this end requires early consultation with educators about their curriculum objectives, their teaching techniques and their classroom needs. It also requires obtaining their input on whether existing airport printed and audio visual material (such as videos, slide shows, brochures, posters, etc.) can be effective teaching tools. Through this partnership, it is hoped that the final program materials, both existing and newly developed, are widely accepted by the educational community and thus used at all levels within the educational system.

Become A Partner In An Adopt-A-School Program

Often school districts have an Adopt-A-School program that match schools with businesses in an effort to enrich educational programs for students and help the community prepare for its economic future. The program involves meeting with your adopted school's principal and staff and outlining mutually agreeable goals for the program. A key element of the program can be the providing of role models for students and the creation of special aviation events such as student career days, writing contests, and airport tours. This represents a commitment of time, but not a big financial commitment by the airport itself. Such volunteer efforts more often than not become mutually satisfying as the partnership is an investment in the future of the community and to many children in the area.

Design An Aviation Teaching Module

Another approach is to consult with local educators (teachers, administrators, science instructors and career counselors) to develop Aviation Teaching Modules for use at elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools. Each program has a different focus as follows: You can achieve these objectives by conducting an Educators Workshop at your airport. At the workshop you can determine the educators’ interest level in an Aviation Teaching Module, the adaptability of current airport material to the program, and get their input about what materials are needed, what subjects should be addressed, and how these new programs can be cost effectively developed and produced.

Elementary Schools: An elementary program is designed to promote general interest in the field of aviation. The format is informative and fun. All children attending the kick off assembly could receive a pair of wings. Components of the elementary program could include airport tours, coloring books, teacher designed lesson material, a poster contest for Aviation Days, classroom speakers, field trips to the airport or children’s museum, and aviation films.

Junior High Schools: A Junior High School program, while still fun, is more sophisticated and is primarily for use in science classes. Sample components of this program are airport tours, teacher designed lesson material, trips to an aviation museum, an essay or poster contest and aviation films.

High Schools: High School programs are geared primarily for use in career workshops but are also included in social studies programs. Program components could include aviation films, an essay or poster contest, Aviation Days and career day speakers.

Working With Young People

Young Aces: Taking a different approach, one general aviation airport started up a non-profit program for at-risk juveniles through their Young Aces program. The program gives at risk youths an opportunity to fly a high performance aerobatic aircraft. The ride is a thrill, but also provides a chance for teens to prove their mettle. Churches, group organizations and juvenile diversion programs recommend participants. Mentor pilots guide youths through a two and one half hour military style flight experience, safety demonstrations and the 45 minute flight.

Young Eagles: The Santa Monica Chapter (Chapter 11) of the Experimental Aircraft Association (E.A.A.) originated the Young Eagles program that operates similarly to the Young Aces program. The goal of E.A.A.'s program is to give one million first flights to youngsters all over the world by the 100th anniversary date of the very first flight of the Wright Brother's "Flyer" (the year 2003). Held quarterly, the Saturday event draws youngsters from the entire Los Angeles basin, with the majority being reached through area service groups looking for positive directions for young people. Each youth is not only given a ride, but is encouraged to participate in all aspects of the flight. It is hoped that this first ride can foster a lifelong interest in aviation.


Excerpt: Assisting In A Disaster

During a major public emergency such as a serious earthquake or hurricane, emergency facilities will be strained and probably overloaded. Well-coordinated general aviation volunteer pilots, operators and support personnel can significantly contribute to emergency relief efforts. This can supplement and complement existing resources by using the extensive fleet of airplanes and helicopters and the highly trained pilots and other personnel involved in general aviation. Thus, every airport can serve as a new major resource, providing disaster relief capabilities for the families and communities surrounding it.

General Aviation Capabilities During Emergencies

Often able to operate when other transportation facilities are disabled or destroyed, general aviation volunteers can transport injured victims, medical personnel and vital supplies, supplementing the medevac and airlift capabilities of the public agencies and the National Guard. General aviation aircraft can be especially useful for bringing regular and supplemental emergency service workers into a stricken community, which may be isolated because of disrupted ground transportation infrastructure. Another important role concerns the evacuation of non-critical injury cases and patients with chronic medical conditions that would add to the workload of already overburdened medical and rescue personnel.

Likewise, smaller aircraft can transport the specific supplies and equipment needed directly to the affected communities, reducing the need for ground transportation and on-site distribution during the frantic circumstances of an actual emergency situation. General aviation helicopters can rescue stranded personnel from buildings, parks and other tight spaces and bring in emergency personnel and supplies. General aviation airplanes can link up with the helicopters, handling intermediate and medium range tasks using local airports and disabled stretches of freeways, roads and fields.

The general aviation community could also supply many additional supplementary services. Small aircraft can be invaluable for surveying damaged areas and spotting isolated victims. Their sophisticated multichannel radio equipment can provide a complete, parallel communications network independent of telephones and existing emergency services. Local, state and federal personnel will be freed up to perform vital administrative and interagency surveying, reopen airfields, assist FAA personnel in reestablishing air traffic control facilities and services and assist activities and loading and unloading of aircraft.

Existing Preparedness Programs

Most of the emergency plans associated with airports have to do with the treatment of injured at the airport and the continuation of airport operations based on the Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular 150/5200-31. How the continued operation of the airport relates to aiding the community during a disaster is left to local preparedness plans to define. The role of airports is often included in statewide plans, but overlooked in local plans.

Many airports take it upon themselves to coordinate a disaster preparedness program. In 1991, the Fullerton City Council in California approved a ‘Volunteer Pilot Service Program’ submitted by Fullerton Municipal Airport, which would allow pilots to volunteer their time and aircraft to assist fire and rescue personnel in observing local disasters. The city council also agreed to add pilots wishing to join the program to their Workers’ Compensation coverage while they are engaged in pre-approved activities solely on the city’s behalf.

Airports or aviation businesses with an interest in assisting in a community disaster and disaster planning can offer support to local and regional planning agencies. Some airports have taken an active role in disaster planning. For example, this could include helping develop the plans necessary to make a fleet of general aviation airplanes, helicopters and jets available to assist a city in the event of a disaster that would require air transportation assistance. Airports and airport tenant associations have also sponsored events on disaster preparedness for local communities as well as events to assist airport tenants learn how to cope in a disaster.

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