10/09/2012 04:28 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2012

Airports Are the Deep Water Ports of the 21st Century

In America's first two centuries, commercial shipping and travel between nations -- even across the country -- was done by water. Even into the 1970s travel by jet for leisure was a luxury only enjoyed by the wealthy.

Most commercial flights saw more use for business travel versus leisure until the 1980s.

Into the 1980s and 1990s families began to have the financial capacity to take flights for vacation and visiting other family in different parts of the United States rather than travel by car, as the economy soared and air travel prices dropped. International travel for leisure from the United States skyrocketed.

Even as the airline rates and other costs have climbed in recent years, it remains a common occurrence to fly.

In the 1980s while driving by Detroit Metro Airport with my father, Ed McNamara, he would say that airports will be the "deep water ports" of the 21st Century.

My late father was instrumental in significantly upgrading Detroit Metro Airport by adding runways and building a new midfield terminal, later named after him as the Edward McNamara Terminal. He foresaw not only the growth of air travel but also the potential it had on the economy of metro Detroit and Michigan. He had a vision that it was a means to bring the world closer to connect businesses and families on a more frequent basis, further catapulting the regional economy.

My father's legacy lives in Detroit Metro Airport via the two impressive terminals, McNamara and North, along with the other infrastructure improvements including the Midfield runway.

Airports are the economic force for commercial transportation that once was led by shipping and travel by water and rail. They offer a quicker, more efficient means to get from point A to point B. While rail faltered after the invention of the automobile, it made a more significant dive when air flight became the primary means of cross-country and international travel and shipping.

However, rail does remain a pivotal transportation mechanism for shipping as well as to improve transportation infrastructure and access to urban areas such as Detroit and Chicago.

It means a great deal to me that on September 20, the Wayne County Commission appointed me to the Wayne County Airport Authority Board. I look forward to continuing my father's legacy and his vision along with making the airport an even more significant economic hub along with ensuring that the quality of life is improved for residents living near both Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports.

It will be an honor to be sworn-in as a board member on Wednesday, October 17 next to the bust of my father in the McNamara Terminal.

Today, the Detroit Metro Airport is the primary doorway to every community in Wayne County and to Michigan for citizens across the United States and around the world. It is a hub for business activity, and its progress is a vital platform in our county's growth.

Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports are considerable assets as we strive to make Wayne County an ideal place for families to live, work, learn and play.