Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Emporia Municipal Airport (KEMP) Reopens

The Emporia Airport reopened to air traffic Tuesday afternoon after being closed for almost 45 days while the main runway was being resurfaced. 

As the final striping was done and barricades were being removed, planes were already lining up to take off.

The airport had been closed since Aug. 12 to allow for Shears Construction to complete the resurfacing. The project consisted of milling and then putting a 2-inch overlay on the runway. The project cost more than $1.2 million and hadn’t been done in more than 20 years.

During the runway closure, there was only one incident.

“A plane was trying to get to Lawrence but because of bad weather, couldn’t, so at 10 p.m., with no runway lights, they landed on the runway,” Adams said. “Only after they pulled up and saw the blinking constructions lights did they realize the airport runway was closed.”

Emporia receives significant air traffic and the closure left Emporia pilots having to move their planes to other airports to be able to use them during the closure. Other pilots left their planes grounded during the resurfacing.

Emporia Flight Instructor Brian Cornell said he was excited to have the airport open again. During the interim, he had to use the Burlington airport to train students.

“Burlington made us feel welcome, but it was more difficult to get people trained since they had to travel 30 minutes to get to Burlington,” Cornell said. “Other students receiving instruction just decided to wait until the Emporia Airport opened again.”

There is still more work to do, but most of it can be done while the runway is open.

“The airport will need to be closed for one day at the end of October to put down some permanent striping,” Airport Manager Ken Adams said.

As a celebration of the runway’s completion and improvements, the airport will host a Wings and Wheels open house for the community on Oct 26. Cornell, one of the event organizers, has lined up single and multi-engine planes, jets, vintage aircraft, hot air balloons, gliders, helicopters, powered parachutes and more for the open house.

“This will be a great opportunity to showcase all the improvements and things happening at the Emporia Airport,” Cornell said.

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