01/27/06 — Engineers get OK to start work

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Engineers get OK to start work

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on January 27, 2006 1:52 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The Mount Olive Airport Committee gave engineers tentative approval to proceed with plotting a proposed runway extension to the south.

The committee met Wednesday with engineer Jay Talbert. Committee members present at the meeting said the approval was contingent on the OK of the board members who were not present, although enough were on hand to create a quorum.

The existing runway is 700 feet short of the 5,000 feet needed to accommodate larger jets, and town officials have said that would help the area's economic growth.

A debate over which direction in which to extend the runway has gone on for months.

If the runway is extended south, it will come close to Northeast Church Road. If that option is taken, the minimum altitude at which pilots could approach landing would be higher than if they came in from the north.

If the runway is extended north, part of Kelly Springs Road would have to be closed. Property owners along the road have opposed that idea.

Talbert will study a southern extension. He told committee members it would take about 45 days to finish. Committee member Ray McDonald Jr., who presided over Wednesday's meeting, told Talbert he would contact him in a few days to let him know whether to start work.

Talbert said when he is finished with the analysis he wants to meet with the committee again before taking the plan to state officials for approval.

The analysis will cost the town about $13,200.

The committee also approved the purchase of a machine that helps pilots move their airplanes out of the hangar when nobody else is around to help them. Some of the hangar doorways have raised thresholds, and they have difficulty getting their airplanes out of the hangar without help.

Airport Manager Mike Bass can spend up to $4,000, which will be taken out of the capital improvement fund. In exchange for a key to the storage room where the tug will be kept, Bass will provide a liability statement for the pilots to sign, holding him blameless in case they damage their airplanes while using the tug.