11/17/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Small Airports Get Billions From Fed

Federal lawmakers have used some of the money to build and maintain the world's most expansive and expensive network of airports -- 2,834 of them nationwide -- with no scheduled passenger flights. Known as general-aviation airports, they operate separately from the 139 well-known commercial airports that handle almost all passenger flights.

In the first full accounting of the 28-year-old Airport Improvement Program, USA TODAY found that Congress has directed $15 billion to general-aviation airports, which typically are tucked on country roads and industrial byways.