Chairman's Letter

Moving into 2021, the WAA Board of Directors would like to thank you for your support in a very challenging 2020!

During these unprecedented times, our board continues to work hard to demonstrate our unwavering support and commitment to business and general aviation at the Westchester County airport and our NE region. With over 130 members including business, corporate, and individual membership levels, we continue to grow and deliver more benefits each year. We genuinely appreciate your feedback, attendance, and support during our emerging growth. Ensuring that we encompassed advocacy for all of our members both in business and general aviation, we assembled a substantial schedule in 2020 in spite of the challenges of COVID-19. Modifying many of our familiar activities to virtual events and introducing new programs, the WAA could not be more proud of our yearly highlights.

Video ATC Quarterly Meetings a huge success in 2020

The first quarterly ATC meeting took place in person on January 27th at the Ross East boardroom and was attended by 15 pilots. Due to the quarantine restrictions of coronavirus, the WAA moved the next meeting in May to an online video conference call. WAA Board Member Scott Dyer and WAA Executive Director Kerri Gianazza did a fantastic job of transitioning the meeting to this new format and attendance actually increased to over 70 attendees!! Feedback from many of those in attendance reported they preferred the new format. The meetings in August and December had attendance in excess of 50 individuals.

4th Annual Safety Day cancelled for 2020

Out of an abundance of caution, the WAA board made the decision in May to postpone the Annual Safety Day event. The decision was not easy as this has become our signature event, but the board felt it would be too difficult to ensure the safety of those in attendance and the speakers, many of whom would be required to travel. We are committed to hosting this event in the future, once conditions allow large gatherings.

The Northeast Virtual Aviation Safety Stand Down was held September 12, 2020

As an alternative to our Annual Safety Day, the WAA helped sponsor and promote the Northeast Virtual Safety Stand Down. The program was held virtually and was hosted by Gene Benson a professional pilot, flight instructor, author, and educator. Gene is an experienced presenter hosting hundreds of aviation events, including national conventions.

The agenda was robust and included the following speakers:

David St. George, Executive Director of SAFE, Safety is in YOUR hands

Kirk Thorvaldsen ,Pilot Coordinator – Patient Airlift Services (PALS)

Ben Struck, FAASTeam Program Manager – Farmingdale FSDO

Nick Gregory, Chief Meteorologist for WNYW-TV Fox 5 News in New York City

Toby Bucsescu, Air Traffic Control Specialist

Adam Rosenberg, Major Airline Captain/A320 Check Airman, FAA Designated Pilot Examiner

Ace Rowley, Operations Manager, Rochester Air Center

An additional benefit of a virtual event is that it can be recorded. If you missed this event, click here to view a recording of the session.

Thanksgiving Food Drive November 2020

The first WAA Thanksgiving Food Drive was a huge success! Donations were collected at the Airport Administration office as well and Million Air and Ross Aviation East and West. The items donated from Nov 9th -16th were donated to the White Plains Youth Bureau. The items from Nov 16th-24th were donated to the Bread of Life in Rye, NY. We collected over 25 bags/containers full of groceries that filled the shelves of their food pantry. A huge THANK YOU to the Airport Ops team members, as well as the based tenants, customers and team members of Million Air and Ross Aviation for their generous donations and support of this Food Drive. Both organizations were very appreciative of the generosity displayed by the aviation community. The Food Drive is a tradition we plan to continue in the years to come.

WAA continues to work with the Airport Advisory Board on community issues regarding Westchester County Airport

In February, the county presented the results of a Noise Study conducted by the nationally recognized noise monitoring firm HMMH. The noise footprint of aircraft arriving and departing from Westchester County Airport has contracted significantly over the last several decades. Experts cite lower traffic numbers at the airport and improvements in noise reduction technologies on aircraft as the primary drivers for the significant reduction of noise levels. While this is great news overall, there has been an increase in noise complaints from residents in certain communities and particularly north of the airport.

Newly appointed Airport Advisory Board (AAB) Chairman Nicholas Hartman has been working to bring various community and airport groups together to find constructive paths forward to address present concerns. For example, the AAB looked at the evolution of wind patterns over the last decade and found a clear trend towards winds favoring runway 16 which results in this runway being used more than it was historically. This may, in part, contribute to recent complaints on increases in noise north of the airport when overall traffic at the airport has continued on a steady downward trend.

To address this concentration of traffic, WAA board member Scott Dyer and AAB Chairman Hartman combined the resources of both organizations to offer a possible solution to concerns regarding the present concentration of traffic on the runway 16 centerline. The partnership has proposed a new visual approach to runway 16 that will use visual landmarks to route traffic down highway 684 before joining the final approach path to runway 16 at approximately 2 miles out instead of the current 7 mile final. Current estimates are this approach, if approved, could reduce traffic on the 7-mile straight-in final approach course by 50% during daylight VFR conditions. This approach will require FAA approval which can be a multi-year process, but it shows the WAA’s commitment to finding positive solutions for our neighbors.

While the board was sad to see two of our most seasoned board members retire in 2020, we could not be more pleased with the new board members elected to replace them. 

Milt Hobbs, Managing Director of Aviation for J.P. Morgan retired from JPM in July of 2020 and simultaneously resigned from the WAA board. Milt was our Chairman from 2015 to 2018 and had served on the board since 2009. 

Jeffrey LeeFormer Executive Director at Flight Safety International. Jeff also retired professionally in 2020 and moved to Florida. Jeff is also a past President of the WAA and was our longest serving board member. 

John DonofrioExecutive Director of Aviation for J.P. Morgan. John was hand-picked by Milt to replace him at J.P. Morgan and, while no one can completely fill Milt’s shoes, John offers the board the same high-level of wisdom and depth of experience as a life-long corporate aviation professional. 

Lauren Rones-PayneGeneral Manager of Million Air. Lauren brings representation of a second HPN-based FBO to the board as well as a woman’s perspective. Lauren is a 20+ year Westchester county resident and will use her board seat to encourage more women to seek positions within the aviation industry. 

Eric FaulknerVice President and General Manager of Ross Aviation White Plains. Eric resigned from his position as Chairman of the WAA. During his time as Chairman Eric was instrumental in helping to create the Bill Weaver Memorial Scholarship. Eric will continue to serve on the Board in 2021. We thank him for his continued service.


Looking forward to 2021

On behalf of the WAA Board, we’d like to congratulate all of you on surviving a very challenging year. The WAA looks forward to continuing to promote community, education and information at Westchester County Airport and we hope you will continue to support us through your membership dues. Proposed activities for 2021 include:

  • Return of the Bill Weaver Memorial Scholarship Award
  • Quarterly ATC meetings
  • Our 4th Annual Safety Day
  • Summer Barbecues
  • Fall Autos & Airplanes
  • Fall Young Eagles Aviation day
  • Thanksgiving Holiday Food Drive
  • Winter Photo Contest

Additionally, we will continue to work with the Airport Advisory Board and the County Executive on community relations and the visual approach to runway 16. The board has created an informational presentation on the benefits of the airport to Westchester county and it’s residents and also explains results of the noise study and the change in winds patterns. We will be posting this on our web site in January and be reaching out to local community leaders to present the information. If there is a community leader you’d like us to meet with to explain all the benefits of Westchester County Airport, please let us know.

We hope all of you have a safe and joyous holiday season. The WAA is excited to think about 2021 and will continue to be your partner to promote all that is good about Aviation at the Westchester County Airport.

Best,

John Wellington

WAA Chairman of the Board


Westchester Aviation Association is a non-profit organization.

P.O. Box 447  |  Purchase, NY 10577-0447

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