Does San Antonio Hate Conservative Christians?

2 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.