How do you know when the community you live in has officially “arrived?” I suppose for openers, a cellular tower would be a nice start. How about a post office, you have to have one of those, correct? For example, here in Clifton Park, we have so many post offices, we even have one in an apple orchard at Devoe’s Apple Orchards. (“I’ll take a bushel of Macintosh, a peck of Red Delicious, and could you mail these Christmas cards?”) A major supermarket chain should be located in your town, and at least one if not more nationally known chain fast-food restaurants would appear to be a must if the town you live in is worth its weight in salt. If your town doesn’t have at least one McDonald’s, you really are living in Palookaville. Unfortunately, a Walmart is probably another symbol that your town is on the map, and of course the townsfolk have to have a watering hole, you know, just to forget about the fact that your town needs a Walmart for legitimacy.
However, if you really want to step up your game, and show the world that you’ve arrived as a “Burgh,” then the stamp of legitimacy that you seek can be found if your town has an international airport. Then my friends, and only then can you claim that you’ve made the big time. You have officially arrived, and there ain’t no stopping you now.
Albany is not a large city, in fact the population of the entire Capital Region typically hovers at around 1,170,000 (ny.gov)depending on how many are being born or dying at any given moment. This of course includes Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and all of the outlying suburbs. When you view our region from that standpoint, having an international airport at our beck and call shouldn’t seem so unusual. Most areas that have any type of sizable population aren’t too far from an airport, for example the city of Jamestown located in the southwestern corner of the state has an airport, and the population of that city is only around 29,000 people. However, Jamestown’s airport isn’t international despite its relatively close proximity to Canada. The city doesn’t even have an International House of Pancakes so as not to wet the appetite of any wouldbe international travelers. Nope, if you want to keep your people from wandering across the border, feed them at a Bob Evans. Nothing says “America First!” like a breakfast at Bob’s.
Many have mocked the idea that the airport here in the Capital Region is in fact, “international.” They say that it’s such a small airport, that the idea that somebody is going to arrive at the Albany INTERNATIONAL Airport to begin a journey to Botswana, or Addis Ababa is simply absurd. Many even question the accuracy of the claim that our airport is indeed, international. Imagine the nerve of some people thinking that our airport’s name is an infelicity. Many a stand-up comedian who makes their way to our area love to poke fun at the idea that the Albany Airport is international. I assure you I know of what I speak. A comedian I recently saw open up for Larry “The Cable Guy” here in Albany who billed himself as a “Christian comedian” even made fun of this idea. Now that’s low when a Christian comic who claims to be all about positive vibes arrives in your hometown, and uses your airport as a punching bag. Well perhaps these doubters and cynics were unaware of a Norwegian Air Shuttle 787 which was forced to land here in January of 2018, and only the fine customs staff here at Albany INTERNATIONAL Airport were able to process these weary travelers before they were sent by bus to New York City.
If one were to step away from the idea that the local airport is indeed international, you really can’t debate the idea that Albany INTERNATIONAL Airport has come a long way. The airport was rebuilt thanks to the ability of then Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, the only person in New York State government to actually advocate for projects that might benefit anything north of Rockland County for the past 20 years, to round up the cash necessary for such a project to occur. (Yes I know, he was convicted of bribery charges, but it was overturned on appeal, which doesn’t make him innocent per se’, just “not guilty.”) Before Senator Bruno showed up with his money and smile, Albany INTERNATIONAL Airport was little more than one of those old airfields like the one Charles “Lucky” Lindbergh took off from during his famous flight across the Atlantic. The only other distinguishing factor possessed by the pre-renovated Albany INTERNATIONAL Airport was that it charged usury prices in its few eating establishments that operated within its premises.
The work to bring the Albany INTERNATIONAL Airport into the 20th century commenced in 1996, and was completed in June of 1998. Upon its reopening, the airport went from being an aeronautical joke, to being one of the nicest and most user friendly smaller airports in all of New York State. Unlike bigger and busier airports such as LaGuardia in Queens, there’s a quiet serenity about Albany INTERNATIONAL. The people who work at the various kiosks, as well as the TSA agents who ensure security are typically efficient, as well as friendly. In addition, there are several eating establishments in the airport that are of decent quality and reasonably priced. However, what may set the Albany INTERNATIONAL Airport apart from other more pedestrian airports located in the Northeast is the addition of a Chick-fil-A, a fast-food chicken and waffle fry establishment that commands an almost cult-like following from its minions of fried chicken enthusiasts. Your move…LaGuardia!