Orcas airport is an invaluable resource for our community. One advantage it provides is the transportation of medical patients. I know. As an OAA MercyPilot, I have flown patients to the mainland five days a week for six weeks for radiation and chemo treatments as have other pilots. And then there was our neighbor with a nail through her hand. I flew her off the island, avoiding a long ferry delay or cancellation. In a critical life-saving emergency our airport provides a landing strip and heliport for Island Air Ambulance, Airlift Northwest, and LifeFlight. I almost daily see EMTs arriving at the airport in an ambulance and expertly transferring a patient on a gurney to an aircraft ensuring arrival in Bellingham, Skagit, or Anacortes in 15-20 minutes.
Getting off the island by air is in many ways easier than getting back. Nearly two years ago I had complex spine surgery in Seattle. My wife made arrangements to bring me home by ferry only to have the ferry cancelled. Fortunately, local pilots Rick Fant and Allen Wilcox came to our rescue. Before picking us up at Boeing Field they removed the back seats of Allen’s plane so I could be laid down. They carefully lifted me in and out through the plane’s double doors and had me at my front door in less than an hour and a half. Already in excruciating pain, I don’t know how I would have managed the long car ride plus the ferry ordeal.
Rick Fant is running for Port Commissioner. He is not only a pilot but a flight instructor as well. Through aviation, he has been able to manage projects for major companies yet live on Orcas for twenty years. Rick is a valued friend, a man who is energetic and knows how to get things done. He is realistic and does not envision a larger airport but a better airport that serves all Orcas residents. He is the kind of person our community needs on the Port to help guide its future for the benefit of the whole community.
The Port’s mission is to promote economic growth and safety in the community. It already does that well in many ways. It can also have a positive impact on non-aviation goals. As an example, it could promote affordable housing for teachers, EMTs, retail, restaurant, and ferry workers. How about improving our marine resources? A volunteer pilot program? The Port’s future requires vision and action. Rick Fant personifies both. Please give him your support by voting for him in the August 1 and November 7 elections.