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Friday, June 2, 2023

We need commercial flights in Ocala

To the Editor:

I have lived here in Ocala for 64 years. With that being said, I would like to offer my opinion which is shared by many Marion County residents. Jim Taylor Airport has been here for the 64 years that I’ve been alive. I have watched this area grow to what it has become today. The airport has had the same flight paths into and out of Ocala since I was born.

People would be surprised at how many of us senior citizens have to pay outrageous fees to get transportation to other airports that have commercial flights. For a lot of seniors, the cost has eliminated the ability to fly and visit friends and family. Not all of us drive.

Those folks that oppose commercial flights here are doing more harm than good. With the Equestrian Center and O.B.S., we already have heavy aircraft traffic that flies horses into and out of Ocala. They mostly come in during daylight hours and hardly anyone notices them at all. Commercial flights can be limited to daylight hours only, and the number of airlines that would service the Ocala International Airport could be limited to one or two companies.

We are growing by leaps and bounds, yet our airport is limited to only those folks that have their own aircraft. Now that’s really not fair to the folks that need a commercial flight connection here. Why call it Ocala International Airport if it’s a private airport? Go back to Jim Taylor Field.

The folks that complain about the noise probably complain about a lot of other things too.
My question is: If you’re worried about the noise of 3 or 4 aircraft landing and taking off during the day, then why did you buy property along the airport’s flight paths? They also must not care about how many more jobs just two commercial airlines would create for the residents of Ocala. Gainesville has had a few commercial flights for some time now and it’s surely not hurting their economy up there.

Our airport needs to grow along with our population. We could also use the Amtrak station to open back up and start servicing Ocala again. Some say to let the seniors catch a Greyhound bus to Orlando or even Gainesville. The Greyhound bus station is located at the Pilot truck stop on 326, not in town where it would be convenient for us non-driving seniors to access.

We need commercial flights here in a limited setting. Then everyone would be happy.

Martin Marszalek
Ocala resident