Just a Plane Ride Away
winnie easton-jones is making plans for another trip from her home in Camden back to her childhood roots in France. Emilia Robert has only lived in Maine for about a month, and she's already planning to visit friends and relatives near her former home in Rhode Island. And Rockport attorney Dana Strout and his wife, Dorie, have just returned from ten days in Germany and France.
Mainers, it seems, are on the move. Some newcomers see the state as the frontier, a place where escapes can be as unlikely as beach days in February.But those who end up calling the Pine Tree State home have discovered that with six airports offering commercial flights and connections to major airline hubs nationwide, plus twenty-six smaller runways supporting charter and private aircraft, leaving home may well be easier than it was wherever they used to live.
"I think people are less traumatized when they need to fly somewhere because there are just so many airports now," explains Heather Redfield, an agent with Hewins/Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Camden. "Mostly they're looking at price and what's going to be easiest for them."
In years past, that combination of price and ease often forced Mainers to Logan Airport in Boston. But in recent years Maine's two major airports, the Portland International Jetport and Bangor International Airport, have increased their number of flights and expanded the parking options. (In Portland you now pay just $9 for covered parking in a spot so close to the terminal that you can practically see your car from the baggage claim carousels.) More Mainers — 215,284 more of them over the past decade through the Portland airport alone — are now choosing to keep their cars on this side of the Piscataqua River. In addition to the five daily flights from Portland to Boston and nine flights to Newark's LaGuardia, the Jetport also offers daily non-stop service as far afield as Atlanta and Minneapolis. Bangor International Airport, which boasts a runway so long that even space shuttle crews keep it on their list as a backup landing field, also offers more than sixty flights to major airline hubs.
But for those Mainers who find Portland or Bangor either too big or too far, four smaller airports — in Trenton, Presque Isle, Augusta, and Owls Head — offer connecting service from hangars so local the person handling your luggage may well be your neighbor or a close relative. "A lot of people just choose to fly out of [Owls Head] — it's easier, and people really love that little airport," says travel agent Redfield.
These days, more than a few newcomers find they're happier on the return flight home than they were when departing the Pine Tree state. "There's no place like Maine," says Emilia Robert.