Have you ever wished that your favorite airport had better transportation options to convey you that “final mile” to restaurants, lodging, or other attractions? The Treasure Valley Chapter of the Idaho Aviation Association has for many years made “final mile” transportation a focus of their service activities. The Bike Shed projects, which now dot airports around the state, began with the TV Chapter. In 2020 the TV Chapter launched a new effort focused on airport courtesy cars. Idaho is unique in the number of rural airports with great hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, or other recreational opportunities in their backyard. However, we recognize bicycles may not always be the best form of transport, especially if the fishing hole is five or more miles away from the airport.
A great example is Mackay, Idaho. This south-central Idaho airport (U62) sits at the base of the majestic Lost River Mountain Range, literally in the shadow of 12,600-foot Borah Peak, Idaho’s tallest. Mackay is surrounded by the towering Pioneer Mountains to the west, the Lost River Range to the east, and blue-ribbon trout fishing in the Big Lost River and Copper Basin, northwest of town. Mackay has several good “watering/feeding holes,” fun hotels, an adventurous and unique mine hill self-guided tour, a small but interesting history museum, and other attractions (ask about the skeleton yard, a Mackay must-see). But Mackay is like a lot of small Idaho towns with a great airport: most attractions are a further ride than a bicycle would accommodate, and there are no rental cars available for at least 100 miles. Mackay’s airport budget is limited to say the least, so a municipally-funded courtesy car just isn’t in the cards.
Mackay will be an excellent showcase of how the TV Chapter’s courtesy car program can provide a real shot in the arm to a local airport and serve our membership by providing that “final mile” transportation we all crave when we arrive at our favorite out-of-town airport. The Treasure Valley Chapter has partnered with Dowdy’s Automotive Service, a Boise-based automotive repair and maintenance business with five locations around Boise, Meridian, and Ontario. The chapter finds suitable donor vehicles or $$$ to buy a suitable vehicle, and Dowdy’s then donates the labor and parts needed to get them ready to be deployed at no cost to a local airport. Dowdy’s takes care of installing new tires, a new battery, changing coolant, fluids, filters, and addressing any needed repairs to make sure the vehicles are safe and dependable. In the last 12–18 months, the chapter has been able to dispatch a Dodge Durango to the Council Airport, a Ford Crown Victoria to Glenn’s Ferry, and Dowdy’s is in the process of rehabilitating a Subaru Loyale Station Wagon donated by TV Chapter members Brian and Jamie Boesiger for the Mackay Airport this Spring.
So how can you help as an IAA member? First and foremost, we need donations of $$$ or vehicles in exchange for a potential tax deduction. All the vehicles dispatched to area airports were donated by IAA members or supporters through the Gem State Aviation Fund Inc, a 501(c)(3) corporation. If you have a late 1990s or newer SUV, sedan, or van that is cluttering up your driveway or garage and want to turn that into a good deed and a potential tax deduction, let us know! Vehicles can be donated Mon–Fri, 7:30 a.m.–6 p.m. at Dowdy’s Automotive, 3183 South Federal Way in Boise, or by calling or emailing me. See Brandon or Cate at the store if dropping a donation. If you have no vehicle, but would like to make a financial donation, Gem State Aviation Fund can take tax deductible donations of any amount! Simply earmark it for the Airport Courtesy Car Program when you send in your check. You can also donate via the IAA website at www.IdahoAviation.com/general-donation and designate the funds toward the courtesy car program. If you know of an airport with a need, contact the IAA Director for that district and together reach out to the airport and see if they are open to administering a courtesy car program, if the car is provided to them at no cost. Participating airports need to sign a memorandum of understanding committing to maintaining the vehicle, providing insurance, and making it available for use by the pilot community. Your District Director will then contact the TV Chapter and “get that airport on the list.” Together we can make “final mile” transportation at all of our favorite Idaho airports a reality!