Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Golf balls ending up on Elizabethton Municipal Airport (0A9) runway


 CARTER COUNTY, TN (WJHL) - Tuesday was not ideal weather to be outside. It was rainy, cloudy and cold. Monday was a completely different story and with Masters fever wearing off some people took advantage of the weather and hit some golf balls.

The problem is where they were hitting them.

In Carter County the balls landed at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport and that has airport officials worried. They said the tiny white ball could become a deadly problem if it hit a plane.

At the Elizabethton airport they can expect as many as 100 flights taking off and landing every day.

To ensure the safety of employees and travelers, officials conduct daily inspections, and several times this month they've found golf balls scattered across the runway. Tuesday was no exception.

"Over the last 30 days we have been finding golf balls," said Dan Cogan.

Cogan is not at a local golf course, he's about seven miles away at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport.

"Four different occasions we found golf balls out there and the total is well over 100 golf balls," Cogan said.

Cogan is the airport manager. He said they're finding the golf balls along the east end runway, where planes take off and land.

"Whether it's an oversight that someone didn't use good judgment of hitting a golf ball, that's why we have golf courses," said Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes.

Mathes said at this point there's nothing criminal about it, but that could change and change very quickly.

"(It's) reckless endangerment, you're putting people's lives in danger," Mathes said.

Cogan fears the worst if a golf ball went flying at a plane.

"It can suck a golf ball into it causing engine failure or damage to the engine," said Cogan. "Then if it's a moving aircraft you could have a major incident causing up to loss of life."

Mathes hopes the word gets out and whomever is using the runway as their golf course, stops.

"We're not at a golf course. We're in the middle of a community and inside of that community there is an airport where planes are landing and taking off," said Mathes.

At this point no one has been hurt and no plane has been hit.

Deputies ask if you know who may be behind the club, to call the Carter County Sheriff's Office at (423) 543-2211.

Story and video: http://www.wjhl.com