Does San Antonio Hate Conservative Christians?

7 Replies

Does San Antonio Hate Conservative Christians?

Posted by Wesley Schlenker on Apr 2, 2019 12:50 am

Please, before you delete this post for being political, consider that I gave it a controversial title for the opposite purpose:  We need to send a message that public airports must never be used for political purposes, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with those purposes. 

I have lived in Dallas for many years, and San Antonio has been a beloved family general aviation destination:  the Riverwalk, the Alamo, the Mexican market, and SeaWorld still bring smiles.  I recall the bumpy summer final approach into KSAT flying a waggling V-tail Bonanza decades ago, when my toddler-age son decided to projectile vomit all over his carseat during the pre-landing checklist, sending my wife vaulting backwards out of the copilot seat.  I was grateful for the sharp eyes of the tower controller, telling me I was aligned to land on the wrong parallel runway.  Someone needs to write a book explaining how the simplistic “sterile cockpit” concept can work when your passengers are your own family.

That toddler son is now married, ready to start a family of his own.  But I still enjoy flights to KSAT.  Last summer, I packed a few men into my Cessna 210, so we could all spend time volunteering with a large nonprofit organization that is headquartered in San Antonio.  We flew high above a carload of men who were driving to the same destination, and we oozed with sinful pride when they finally drug into our hotel.

While there one evening, I flew a young “graduate” of the Texas foster care system around the city for his first airplane ride.  He had recently moved from Dallas, where I was able to give him something the State of Texas does not give any of its foster care kids:  his driver’s license.  While I was teaching him how to drive, he drove me and my car though exclusive neighborhoods of Dallas, giving me a small taste of what it feels like to be in a place where people might think you “don’t belong”.  On our takeoff from  KSAT, my landing gear would not come up properly, so our flight was cut short while I pumped the gear down by hand.  He didn’t care, he was ecstatic.

The next day, on my way back to Dallas, one of my passengers was bitten with the flying bug so hard that he has been begging for us to repeat the volunteering trip this year.  And so we will, only this time I will have to dump fuel and send some luggage with the car-crawlers, because more men want to squeeze into the C210.  But should I land at KSAT this year, or should I find a less desirable airport in the suburbs?

San Antonio’s city council used the San Antonio airport to make a political statement recently, banning Chick-fil-A from becoming a concessionaire there.  City officials cited Chick-fil-A’s political positions.  City councilman Robert Trevino spoke proudly of the city’s political stance:  “San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”  This is based on private contributions made by the owner through the WinShape Foundation, and his personal statements in support of traditional marriage.

The foundation’s objectionable donations to two organizations, in particular, have been cited in recent reports from progressive sources critical of Chick-fil-A:  The Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  The city does not claim that the company’s employment practices or business policies are illegal; its personnel policies conform to federal employment law.  The company issued a statement of respect for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, in an internal document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We are.”  The City of San Antonio is using KSAT to send a political message:  If your company owner donates to The Salvation Army or Fellowship of Christian Athletes, two conservative faith-based organizations, or if he makes personal statements in favor of traditional marriage, you will not qualify to do business at this public airport.

My dilemma is that I am flying men to volunteer at a faith-based organization with values very similar to The Salvation Army or the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  The City of San Antonio receives funds when we rent a car and buy fuel at the FBO.  If we have a choice, should we take our business to a less desirable airport in the suburbs?  Here is the real question:  Why am I facing this dilemma?  No city should use its public airport to send a political message.  I trust that AOPA and the pilot community can find ways to tactfully make the City of San Antonio, and other municipal airport operators, aware of this basic tenet of public service.
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Re: Does San Antonio Hate Conservative Christians?

Posted by Ronald Levy on Apr 11, 2019 9:29 am

Sounds like your problem is political, not aviation-related.  Best addressed through the political process, starting with the San Antonio City Council (which probably won't be much interested in your concern since you don't vote in San Antonio).  I definitely don't see AOPA getting involved in this situation -- they don't fight battles which don't affect general aviation (and a city's choice of concessionaires in an airline terminal doesn't).

Re: Does San Antonio Hate Conservative Christians?

Posted by Doug Wietbrock on Apr 17, 2019 4:13 pm

Without commenting on my city's political behavior of late, consider KCVB. It's near Castroville, 20 miles west of downtown San Antonio. Easy access to San Antonio, low cost fuel, and a good runway. They ran the FBO off last year, but you might be able to get hanger or shed space there.

Re: Does San Antonio Hate Conservative Christians?

Posted by Wesley Schlenker on Jun 26, 2019 1:39 am

Thanks, Ron Levy, for breaking the silence and daring to post on a controversial topic,  And thanks, Doug Wietbrock, for suggesting an alternative airport.  Ron:  My point is that politics has no place in airport business.  So identifying the problem as "political" is correct.  If an FBO operator funded Fellowship of Christian Athletes or Salvation Army out of his personal earnings, he would presumably be rejected by San Antonio Airport management for the same reason they rejected Chick Filet.  It is precisely because politics has no place in airport operations, that this topic should be addressed by the flying community.  Doug:  As it turns out, Bourne Stage Airport only adds ten minutes to my drive, and the men I am traveling with feel that it is worth the extra ten minutes to land at Boerne (5C1) instead of San Antonio.  Our annual trip is coming up this Sunday afternoon, and we are looking forward to it.  And I'm proud of my faithful Cessna 210.  What other piston single will haul 5 full-sized men and their luggage at 155 knots cruise?  At 12 gph lean of peak?

P.S.  San Antonio has a shortage of long-runway GA airports on the north side.  We need a real estate developer who will approach the Army about taking the 7000 feet of flat land around the Camp Bullis airfield (9TX5), to develop it into a joint military and civilian airport.  It would be a win-win for the Army and for the flying community.  Ross Perot Jr., do you read aviation blogs?

Re: Does San Antonio Hate Conservative Christians?

Posted by Ronald Levy on Jun 26, 2019 7:16 am

Wesley Schlenker:
My point is that politics has no place in airport business.  So identifying the problem as "political" is correct. 

...and this is not a political forum.  Suggest you take it to the politicians, and they ain't here.


Re: Does San Antonio Hate Conservative Christians?

Posted by Wesley Schlenker on Jun 26, 2019 11:23 pm

*Sigh.*  Ron, if you click at the top of this very web page on the word "Advocacy", a page will come up that says, "For AOPA, advocacy is more than just lobbying Congress or negotiating with the FAA.  It's about staying engaged with hundreds of state agencies and legislatures.  It's about maintaining a network of pilots to monitor thousands of airports.  It's about putting the combined weight of hundreds of thousands of pilots behind you."

That sounds like grass-roots politics, to me.

I'm begging for help from that network of "hundreds of thousands of pilots."  I was hoping that, even if other pilots don't agree with my views, they understand that if we allow an airport manager to exclude someone due to their political leanings, then we are starting down a path that will eventually bite every one of us.

However, I am grateful for your response.  Does anyone else care?


Re: Does San Antonio Hate Conservative Christians?

Posted by Doug Wietbrock on Jun 27, 2019 2:00 am

I've never visited Boerne Stage Road airport so I couldn't recommend it. It's close to the primary approach for SAT (as is San Geronimo) and I've listened to ATC scold VFR pilots who strayed too close. If you aren't filing a flight plan, at least check in with SAT approach to keep them happy. But I agree that there are few 5,000 foot plus runways on the north side of San Antonio. Just too hilly and expensive I suppose.

I base my C172 at KSKF, Kelly Field, which is a joint base. You'd have to call an FBO like Bario Aviation to get advanced permission to land there, but having 11,000 feet of runway is a kick. It's fun to take off after a group of F-16s and before a C-5. 

Re: Does San Antonio Hate Conservative Christians?

Posted by Ronald Levy on Jun 27, 2019 9:45 am

The choice of concessionaires in an airport's airline terminal just isn't AOPA's concern, and they aren't going to waste their political capital on this issue.  Now if the FBO there refused to refuel Chick-Fil-A's corporate jet on religious grounds, that would be another story, so if that happens, contact the AOPA Airport Support Network (not to mention the FAA Airport District Office for Texas) right away.  Otherwise, you're just wasting your time by posting about this here.