County pilots take the lead

The 60 or so who flew from the Shelby County Airport to Gulf Shores on Saturday understand their trek didn’t put a dent into the overall economic woe of the oil spill-weary region.

However, making the effort to show solidarity and support for that ailing area of Alabama seemed like a good cause for the group, which piled into 26 airplanes and paraded to the Alabama gulf coast.

We couldn’t agree more.

Their effort was appreciated, evidenced by the group of Gulf Shores merchants and members of the South Alabama Parrothead Club, who greeted those in the 26 airplanes that paraded to the area with banners, hugs and Mardi Gras beads.

The event, which the Shelby County pilots’ group called “The $100 hamburger,” deposited at least several thousand dollars into the Gulf Shores economy.

In addition, as one Shelby County resident whose family was vacationing in the Gulf Shores area said, the effort went a long way toward showing others that Alabama’s Gulf Coast is alive and well.

The catastrophic oil spill damaged more than the Gulf’s fragile ecosystem. Thousands of jobs – from those of fishermen to restaurant and hotel workers to retailers – have been put in jeopardy because of the loss of millions of dollars in annual tourism revenue. That devastation is likely to continue for many seasons to come.

We hope other groups follow the Shelby County Aviation Association’s lead and make a concerted effort to draw attention — and dollars — to Alabama’s thriving Gulf Coast.

It may not solve the problem of the economic downfall there, but as workers there will point out, every little bit helps.