Big increases in fuel costs have major airlines and small plane owners struggling to stay aloft. But many long time users of Bowman Field claim it is constantly rising airport fees that are grounding them.

Last December, Don Higgins, leader of a pilots group called Friends of Bowman Field spoke out.

The group claimed a three percent tax added to all Bowman purchases, higher fuel prices than other airports, and new fees on independent mechanics and flight instructors would soon drive off many dedicated Bowman supporters.

After nearly 20 years, Don Higgins and his partner recently moved their plane to the Capitol Airport in Frankfort where his hangar rent is just $150 a month.

"If you can save $3500 a year by, in my case driving 13 miles further, I'd simply be silly not to do it," said Higgins.

Over objections in June, the Airport Authority approved a 20 percent rent increase for all Bowman hangars. The increase does not take affect until February, but like Don Higgins, other pilots are looking to move to other area airports.

Others are putting their planes up for sale calling the $480 a year rent increase the last straw.

"Everytime we turn around, they are raising some kind of price or taking some action to cost us additional money and they are pricing themselves out of the market," said Higgins.