May 16, 2017

Without general aviation, communities in rural areas of Maine would be shut off from supplies, necessities and services in the event of an emergency, Kevin Waters, owner and chief pilot of Penobscot Island Air (PIA), based at the Knox County Regional Airport, wrote for the Village Soup website.

“In 1998, an ice storm swept through Maine, quietly burying roads and towns. Some communities became completely inaccessible,” he noted. “Without general aviation, many towns and island communities would have been cut off from resources for an unknown period of time. It was general aviation pilots who stepped up to the plate, providing a vital link to ensure transportation of emergency personnel, emergency equipment and individuals requiring emergency care.”

Waters’ company, Penobscot Island Air, is an on-demand air taxi company, which provides air service to six island communities in Penobscot Bay.

“For the farthest islands, the ferry to the mainland is 1.5 hours each way, but the flight is 10 minutes. Imagine needing to take an entire afternoon just to grocery shop,” he noted. “And in winter, the harbor can freeze the boats in their moorings, leaving flying as the only option.”

Many lives in Penobscot Bay would be much more difficult without general aviation

In 2016, PIA transported 10,200 passengers, flew 168 Medevacs, delivered 300,000 pounds of mail, 66,000 UPS packages, 10,368 FedEx Express packages and 48,000 FedEx Ground packages. Contractors, electricians and natural resource personnel use the air service, and dentists and staff are flown to island clinics, and teams of biologists are flown to tag fish at northern dams and count eagles’ nests.

“Many lives in Penobscot Bay would be much more difficult without general aviation,” Waters wrote.
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Learn more about Penobscot Island Air.