U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Erie-Ottawa International Airport Director Stan Gebhardt, Eigan Matho, Ashley Matho and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Port Director Eugene Matho Jr. at the celebration of the first international flight into Erie Ottawa International Airport (PCW).
On Saturday Erie-Ottawa International Airport (PCW) welcomed its first international flight. U. S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, State Sen. Randy Gardner, State Rep. Chris Redfern, Erie and Ottawa County Commissioners and dozens of observers greeted the flight from Pelee Island, Ontario, Canada. The flight, piloted by Griffing Flying Service president Thomas Griffing, carried Ottawa County Commissioner Jim Sass and Erie County Commissioner Tom Ferrell.
As the arriving airplane taxied up to the temporary U.S. Customs trailer (construction will begin in the spring for a permanent Customs building), it was met by the applause of the welcoming crowd, canon fire and a rifle salute by U.S. and British-uniformed re-enactors.
The first international flight at PCW.
“Tomorrow is today,” said Airport Director Stan Gebhardt of the culmination of two years of planning. “We must become global thinkers or become isolated.” Gebhardt thanked the Erie and Ottawa county commissioners for working together, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Port Director Eugene Matho Jr thanked Gebhardt for being “a joy to work with”.
“This improvement along the coast will lead to economic prosperity in the future,” said Representative Kaptur. “The potential for added tourism is unlimited.” Kaptur added that the $1 million plus in federal funds for the runway improvements and the coalition of federal, state and county agencies, will “make our way of life better.”
Sen. Gardner joined in pledging support for the airport’s growth and for the potential for increased tourism from birders, boaters, shooters, and visitors to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Magee Marsh and Camp Perry. Gardner also said that he looked forward to continued cooperation with Rep. Redfern, noting that people are frustrated with political partisanship.
Commissioner Ferrell compared the airport to the story of “The Little Engine That Could”. Commissioner Sass joined in predicting many good things for “the friendliest airport in Ohio”.
In addition to the new designation and the runway improvements, the airport is nearing completion of construction of eight new hangars that will house 25-32 airplanes. At the adjacent Liberty Aviation Museum construction is also underway of a new hangar that will house the Tri-Motor construction project and provide storage for vintage aircraft.
Ongoing construction projects, increased fuel sales and fees from more resident planes, Griffing Flying Service’s move, more attractions at the Aviation Museum and international accessibility all have the Little Airport That Could poised to provide a boost for the local economy and for the community.