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no one but the national government can install or operate an air navigational aid.The greater number of airports in active use in this country are owned and maintained by public bodies.Many of those built in 1927 and 1928 are unsuitable today for commercial operation. One of the big national problems of the early 1930's was "how to grow corn on concrete highways." Now we find that the some of these runways are of insufficient length for the new transport.Some of them have had schoolhouses and other obstructions built at their ends,making them useful only when conditions are favorable.
The American conception of a developed airway now includes a carefully mapped route with a sufficient number of emergency landing fields,spaced at intervals of approximately 50 miles,complete set of beacon lights (now of but little use),facilities for guidance by radio beams, and facilities for the collection,transmission, and broadcasting of local weather information.
The miles of lighted airways in operation have extended from approximately 2,000 miles in 1926 to over 22,000 miles at the present time,and lighted intermediate landing fields have grown from 92 in 1926 to over 260 at present time. The airlines daily fly over approximately 28,000 miles of Federal airways of which 6,000 miles are not equipped with Federal airway facilities. Such equipment as does exit on the 6,000 miles is owned by the operators themselves. 
The licensing of teletypewriter circuits along the airways to transmit weather and other information was begun in 1928.From zero miles of teletypewriter lines the system has grown to over 12,000 miles.
The development of radio range beacons to direct pilots under adverse weather conditions was carried forward by the Department of Commerce and reached a point justifying general installation in 1929. Range beacons have grown from approximately nine in 1929 to well over 100 in use at the present time.
The construction and operation of airways as a possible field for action by state governments has been discussed for several years,but only two states have made efforts to provide airways. Reduced appropriations and an economy wave brought the construction of airways to a complete standstill at about the end of 1932,but some small amount of construction has taken place since that date,almost all being financed from funds allocated to the Bureau of Air Commerce by emergency agencies such as WPA and ERA. Approximately,$11,223,298 has been expended for construction along the Federal airways,but this does not mean and should not be interpreted as being the equivalent value of the airways. Much of the existing airway equipment,particularly radio equipment,has a high depreciation rate.Some of the equipment that was installed five,six and eight years ago,has naturally become obsolete. It is estimated that approximately $14,000,000 is immediately required to bring the domestic airways up-to-date without giving consideration to emergency landing fields.
The weather reports furnished along the airways are the result of cooperative work between the Bureau of Air Commerce and the Weather Bureau. The expenditures by the Weather Bureau have decreased approximately 30% in the last five years,even though the volume of flying has greatly increased.
The military usefulness of the airways is of primary importance. They greatly increase the ease and speed with which our military air force can be concentrated and shifted from point to point within the United States. The airways are this of pronounced military value,regardless of the amount of peace-time use they may received by military flyers.
Not every city can be located upon the ocean or upon an inland waterway,but every city is located upon that one great ocean of air which is navigable to every point on the earth's surface. Some 1,300 airports are now in use in the United States,about 200 of which are used by scheduled airlines. Airports are an important phase of the public works activities of municipalities and attention should be given to the proper position,size and condition of airports in Federal programs of aid by public works. Investment of public funds in municipal airports now totals approximately $100,000,000. The number of municipal airports was declining in 1932,doubtless due to the efforts to reduce expenditures during the depression, but since that date,an impetus has been given to the development and construction of additional airports from funds of CWA and WPA.
Great care should be exercised that this work is done well and along lines which will make the airports usable,not only when the projects are completed,but in future years.In this the WPA,coordinating with Bureau of Air Commerce airport engineers,has done wonderful work.By slight revision of the regulations to allow these projects to be accomplished under contract,relief labor might accomplish the work at lower cost and allow it to be done generally on a more economical plane.Good airports are just as important as good airplanes.
There seems to be no disposition on the part of this nation to deny that air transportation-as a promising new form of transportation-should receive some special aid until it reached a greater degree of maturity.Eventually,of course, the air-transportation industry will be self-sustaining.Adequate transportation facilities of all kinds are important to national defense but air transportation has a special importance,differing in kind from that attached to other forms of transportation.The fact that the airplane is a weapon as well as a vehicle is not denied.    
The future of air transportation is full of speculative elements, and planing for that future offers opportunity for wide difference of opinion even among the best informed.In such cases,the great significance of air transportation from a national defense standpoint must be given weight,even though national defense should not be the primary object in planning for civilian industry,even for air transportation. 
Service along the busier air lines is being differentiated into express and local service,with attendant classification of airplanes into express and local stops. This development is due partly to increased traffic and a consequent desire to improve through service,partly to new equipment now coming into use, and partly to refinement in the technique of air navigation.Improved design has increased the ratio of cruising to landing speed and has extended the range of aircraft. Air navigation technique has advanced greatly during the last two years. Emphasis has been laid upon the develop-   


 
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