Bradley International Airport

Bradley International Airport (August 28, 2012)

And there have also been "some discussions" about extending Tweed's runways by paving some portions of the existing safety areas, Larson says.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano believes Tweed needs some more work but says he's confident the airport can be used "to spur economic growth." As for a state takeover, DeStefano shrugs it off. "I don't think it's an essential component," he says.

Sikorsky's situation seems to be in virtual stall mode. Back in June, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Stratford Mayor John Harkins were "invited" to visit U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in Washington, D.C.

The purpose of this friendly little jaunt was to resolve the dispute that's blocked Sikorsky from expanding its safety zones, which would require relocating one of Stratford's roads. There's been a deafening silence since that meeting.

This nasty spat dates back to the 1970s. It's a mess that is screwed up in local politics, with connections to the tangle over developing the neighboring, defunct Stratford Army Engine Plant is owned by the U.S. Army; and has even involved dueling U.S. Representatives. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has taken the side of Stratford, which is in her district; while Congressman Jim Himes, who represents Bridgeport, has been urging that city's case.

There's no sign any of this is going to get settled soon. But that hasn't quashed local supporters' dreams of having Sikorsky cash in on all those wealthy travelers who live in posh suburbs in the region.

Committing bomb loads of state taxpayer money to building up Bradley or Tweed or even Sikorsky might turn out to have some serious economic paybacks. Newark Liberty International Airport, for instance, has become a major regional success story.

The other side of the airport coin is what happened in St. Louis. That city's airport underwent a hugely expensive expansion a few years ago. Then American Airlines pulled out, says Cohen, because it got a sweeter offer elsewhere. That left St. Louis with an almost empty airport.

"It's definitely a gamble," Cohen says of possible airport expansions in Connecticut. "We don't know if we're going to be another St. Louis or another Newark."