Jan. 3, 2019
When many hear the words “Penn Yan,” they think of the general aviation engines that have been overhauled since 1945 by Penn Yan Aero. That well-known shop is only one small part of the larger success story of Penn Yan-Yates County Airport (PEO), located in the Finger Lakes region of rural New York state.
Paul Middlebrook, a member of the Penn Yan-Yates County Airport Council, is an ATP pilot who began working for the Penn Yan Flying Club as a young boy, so he knows the airport well.
In 1973, Middlebrook wrote the first letter to Yates County leaders, which started a project leading to the airport being managed by the corporate flight department for Seneca Foods Corporation. “This is a very unusual airport because it is still operated without any local tax dollars,” Middlebrook said. “All of the money has come from the tenants that use the airport, including the original users, the Penn Yan Flying Club, Penn Yan Aero and Seneca Flight Operations.”
Middlebrook said the latest report from the New York Department of Transportation said PEO was responsible for $52.8 million in economic impact in the region, ranking sixth among the other 67 general aviation airports in the state at the time the report was released.
In addition to economic activity, the airport contributes to the local area by giving back to residents. The first “Penn Yan Airport Runway 5K” race held at the airport in May 2018, and raised $3,000 to support the New York State Sheriff’s Institute Camp on Keuka Lake.
“When the Penn Yan-Yates County airport decided to utilize the runway areas for the race, I was elated. Our slogan is ‘it’s all about the kids’ – and this event was a success in many ways, including bringing all participants onto the airport property, said Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike.