Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Skydive Newport: He took the leap, and it paid off

MIDDLETOWN — When Marc Tripari opened Skydive Newport 15 years ago this month, he was living out of an old light blue Honda Accord parked in the main lot of the Newport State Airport.

Tripari was the company’s only employee at that time and remembers eating cans of tuna fish for dinner and showering at the Newport Athletic Club in Middletown to clean up.

Today, Tripari is at the helm of a successful local business, one that has 10 employees and three airplanes. It set a new company record a couple of Saturdays ago when it completed close to 100 tandem jumps in one day.

“We figured it out recently, and if you add up the number of jumps we’ve done from 2 miles up over the years, you could go around the world twice,” Tripari said. “It’s been an amazing ride.”

With 15 years of experience as a skydiving instructor already under his belt, Tripari decided in July 1999 to take the jump and set up shop at what now is known as the Col. Robert F. Wood Airpark.

Although there had been a skydive company at the island’s airport a few years before, Tripari said he felt he was sitting on a gold mine, given the attractiveness of Newport as an international tourist destination.

He bought his first plane sight unseen, and his high-limit credit cards got quite a workout as he set up the business from scratch.

“Our clients have been great here over the years,” Tripari said. “It feels good. No one else built this business.”

Today, Skydive Newport works like a well-oiled machine, with everyone having a job and knowing it inside and out, Tripari said. Each customer has to sign a liability waiver, go through a 10-minute training course and then get ready to board a plane on his or her way up for a tandem jump.

Although the plane climbs to 10,000 feet, Tripari said where skydivers jump — known as “The Spot” among skydive veterans — varies day to day, depending mostly on weather and wind conditions.

Throughout the trip up and as divers are on their way down, the pilot is in constant communication with air traffic control at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick as well as the local network to make sure everyone is aware there are jumpers in the air, Tripari said.

On days like the one a couple of weekends ago, Skydive Newport will run two planes on a cycle, with instructors packing chutes almost as soon as another team lands, Tripari said. It takes a trained instructor about 10 or 15 minutes to pack a parachute.

The charge for a tandem jump is $230, up from $200 in 1999.

Despite the popularity of skydiving and the company’s successful track record, Tripari said one thing he still hears from people is how unsafe the sport is.

And while Tripari said there’s certainly a risk from jumping out of a plane traveling at 90 mph, 2 miles above the ground, the same could be said with many activities.

“Statistically, it’s safer to do this than drive your car here and back home,” Tripari said. “There’s risk in everything you do, but we always hear about it when the reality is something much, much different.”

Tripari said the other misconception about skydiving is how rough a ride it is.

“People will say, ‘I’m not going on that roller coaster ride,’” Tripari said. “It’s nothing like a roller coaster ride and it’s actually calm and pleasant, especially the view.”

As for what became of the old Accord, Tripari said he rigged it up with a crash-test dummy bolted to the hood and drove it around downtown Newport to generate a buzz about his business before selling it years ago.

And his new ride? A Ferrari that’s the same shade of light blue.

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Resident Says He's Annoyed by Sound of Constantly Buzzing Skydiving Planes above Newport County, Rhode Island

Though he said agrees that skydiving — which he said he's done — is "exhilarating, the unfiltered sound of a plane endlessly circling above can get into your head, similar to the sound of a faucet continuously dripping water." 

Newporter John Bellagamba said is sick of the sound of buzzing overhead from skydiving planes. 

In a letter to the editor, he said the quality of living in Newport County has been affected by what he said is the constant drone of planes overhead. Though he agrees that skydiving — which he said he's done — is "exhilarating, the unfiltered sound of a plane endlessly circling above can get into your head, similar to the sound of a faucet continuously dripping water, a refrigerator that never stops running, or the buzz of an old fluorescent light fixture."

Bellagamba CC'd the folks at Skydive Newport when he sent along his letter. They chimed in by saying "Is this the John Bellagamba that owns a DJ business in Newport? And if so do you ever have a function that you play music late at night?   Ya follow where I am going?"

Here's the full text of Bellagamba's letter:

Have you heard the buzz? I have.  Tune in and listen, and (unfortunately), you will too. 

It was with great interest that I read Matt Sheley’s recent article on the success and growth of Skydive Newport.  As a local independent business owner myself, I certainly appreciate what Marc Tripari has accomplished in building Skydive Newport.  However, as the company is able to boast reaching a high of 100 tandem jumps in one day, the quality of living in Newport County has been affected by the endless buzzing and humming sounds of skydive planes ceaselessly circling above on a daily basis.

Tune in and listen, you'll hear it.  You may be having coffee listening to nature as you wake. You may be studying or working on your computer. Maybe you're closing your eyes for an afternoon nap, or enjoying a book with the doors and windows wide open. Maybe you are taking your dog for a walk, or just doing yard work. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing the constant drone of a plane is circling above, and it's annoying.  Most of are used to the sounds of a plane that takes off and fades away as it continues on to its destination.  However, our local skydive planes circle higher and higher overhead as they climb to jumping altitude.  The result is a persistent droning that is inescapable.

I understand that we all deal with everyday noises like street traffic, lawn gear, construction equipment, pets, sirens, etc.; temporary sounds with various pitches and tones that eventually come to a stop.  These sounds on the ground are filtered and absorbed by vegetation such as hedges, trees, and shrubs. However, the unfiltered sound of a plane endlessly circling above can get into your head, similar to the sound of a faucet continuously dripping water, a refrigerator that never stops running, or the buzz of an old florescent light fixture. These types of sounds resonate in your head and build over time to an annoyance that eventually becomes enough to drive a person crazy.  

I have personally been skydiving, and understand it is exhilarating. On a scale of one to ten it ranks up there close to the top, but the continuous buzzing and humming sounds created by sky-diving airplanes are at the bottom of the scale. 

I'm curious and asking for your input, thoughts, and comments. What are our options? Can Skydive Newport change to a quieter plane?  Can they change the flight pattern as they climb?  Can they change the exhaust on the current plane?  Or, could they just move out of town?

John Bellagamba


Eagle County, Colorado: Local airport not ready for Mexico flights -Air travel consultant

EAGLE — An air travel consultant advised Eagle County to say “not yet” to more direct international flights.

Campbell-Hill’s Kevin Schorr presented a feasibility study to determine whether the numbers worked for regular international flights from Mexico into the Eagle and Aspen airports.

They don’t, at least not right now.

Some of it’s based on the physical restrictions, such as the kinds of planes that can fly such distances to Eagle and Aspen with a planeload of passengers and payload. Those constraints rule out nonstop flights to and from Europe, Australia, South America and the Caribbean, Schorr said.

Aeromexico could do it, and connect to 30 other markets from their Mexico City hub, Schorr said. But to make it work, it would require daily flights from Mexico City.

“Although passenger demand patterns may justify three weekly round trip frequencies to Mexico City during the ski season, the operations and maintenance cost of an international arrivals facility render the opportunity infeasible,” the Campbell-Hill study said. “EGE and Eagle County should not pursue development of an international arrivals facility given the concerns regarding the financial implications of operating such a facility.”

They won’t dive into it, but it’s worth plugging away at, said Greg Phillips, Eagle County Airport manager.

“Over the last several years we’ve seen significant growth in the international market, not just to the Eagle County Regional Airport, but the Roaring Fork Valley as well,” Phillips said. “One of the things they value most is nonstop service,” Phillips said.

The biggest international growth has been in the Central American and South American markets. Passengers there, like passengers everywhere, value price, schedule and nonstop service.

“If we can provide these things, we think it would help drive our market,” Phillips said.

It’s all about the Benjamins

Based on the existing anticipated market there’s not much chance they’d make money on it, Phillips. Seven-day service might make money, but the demand is probably not there yet.

“Even if this turned up roses, the wildcard for us is customs and border protection service,” Phillips.

It would cost $2.6 million to renovate an Eagle County airport building to accommodate international travelers and the customs services they’d need. Then it will cost $400,000-$500,000 a year to subsidize it, assuming they could get customs agents for the ski season, three and a half months a year.

“The chances are low of getting customs agents for three and a half month a year,” Phillips said.

It’s not a consideration for travelers from Canada, who can pre-clear customs in Toronto or other Canadian cities, before flying to the U.S. Travelers from Mexico cannot because the U.S. and Mexico don’t have that sort of agreement.

To make operating an international terminal break even, international travelers would have to be charged between $101.64 and $112.89 per passenger, above the fare they’re already paying — an average of $703 one way into Eagle County and around $740 into Aspen, Schorr said.

The rule of thumb is that about 15 percent of Aspen’s international travelers come through the Eagle County Regional Airport. That’s a traditional rule of thumb, because no one is giving up their actual data, and Schorr said Campbell-Hill agreed to keep it confidential as well.

The Eagle County airport sees 170,000 enplanements a year. The peak was 2007 at 232,000.

Between October 2012 and September 2013, 33,104 international travelers flew through Eagle. That’s a three-fold increase over 2003, Phillips said.

Most are connecting in Dallas/Fort Worth, (34 percent), Houston (23 percent) and Miami (10 percent), Schorr said.

Latin America is about 80 percent of the Eagle County airport’s international traffic, and Mexico City is the top destination, Schorr said.

Aspen gets more United Kingdom travelers, and most fly from Denver to Aspen instead of taking a ground shuttle. About 27 percent Aspen’s international travelers fly transatlantic; 21 percent fly transpacific, Schorr said.

The international market pumps $23.4 million into the Vail Valley economy, and about $25 million into the Roaring Fork Valley economy.


City to purchase fuel-saving device: Greenwood Municipal Airport (KHFY), Indiana

Money left over from projects near the Greenwood Municipal Airport is being spent on a machine that will clean airplane fuel.

Greenwood is buying the city airport a machine to filter water and debris out of airplane fuel so the gas can be sold or put back in a plane fuel tank that needed repair.

The city redevelopment commission agreed to spend $15,789 in tax-increment financing, or TIF, money to buy the equipment for the Greenwood Municipal Airport.

The commission hadn’t spent all of the TIF money set aside for airport projects, such as removal of a water tower.

The airport also can earn back in fuel sales the cost of the machine, so the purchase made sense, redevelopment commission president Mike Tapp said.


Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (KECP) numbers down, although planes remain nearly full

WEST BAY — June passenger traffic at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport failed to outpace last year, but officials say high load factors for the airport’s two commercial airlines are a positive sign.

Airport Director Parker McClellan provided the report to the Airport Authority at a board meeting Wednesday, which outlined about a 4 percent decrease in passengers year-over-year, with June flights on Southwest Airlines 88 percent full and Delta Airlines flights 79 percent full.

“The load factors are showing that the airlines that are coming in here are full,” McClellan said, chalking high load factors up to seasonal schedule adjustments the airlines have made over the last few years. “Those are great numbers.”

However, when compared with load factors from the same month last year, the numbers haven’t shown much improvement. Load factors for Delta Airlines actually decreased 12 percent from last year, while load factors for Southwest Airlines remained about the same.

Overall, 204,521 passengers traveled through ECP in June, compared with 211,112 in June of 2013.

Despite lagging passenger numbers, the airport managed to gain ground on its percentage of the market share. Between April and June the airport held 21 percent of the market share, up from the 19 percent reported last quarter.

Pensacola International Airport maintained its grip on the market with a 40 percent share between April and June, followed by Northwest Florida Regional Airport in Okaloosa County with 20 percent, and Tallahassee Regional Airport with 19 percent.

 New chairman

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the board elected board member Till Bruett as the new chairman and Russ Mathis as vice chairman. Bruett will take over the position from former Chairman John Pilcher, who held the title for the last two years.

Bruett has served on the board for five years and said his biggest goal as chairman will be to bring new airline service to ECP.

“I think that has to be our main emphasis,” Bruett said. “Increase the service and improve the service.”

Additionally, the airport authority welcomed new member Cindy Meadows, who was appointed by the Walton County Commission. Meadows will replace former Walton County representative Dawn Moliterno on the board.

In other business, the board:

- Approved a $372,000 task order contracted from the airport’s engineering firm, ZHA, Inc. for environmental mitigation services for 9,600 acres south of the airport between September 2014 and August 2015. The motion marks the second year of a three-year contract with environmental consulting firm ERC, but Pilcher requested that the contract be rebid every year in the future to ensure a competitive price. Mitigation efforts in the coming year will include prescribed burns, timber harvest, hydrologic restoration and restoring native vegetation.

 - Approved a 3.1 percent raise for Airport Director Parker McClellan following a performance evaluation conducted by Bruett. The raise brings McClellan’s annual salary to $139,196.

- Approved a $12,130 change order requested by Phoenix Construction for a project to construct a new pushback apron and improve security surrounding the air traffic control tower. The original contract sum is $1.2 million. 


Yeager Airport (KCRW) preparing defense in Freedom Industries lawsuit

Yeager Airport’s newly appointed lawyer will try get a chemical-leak related lawsuit dismissed on legal grounds, arguing that, as a government-run agency, the airport cannot be sued.

Yeager’s insurance company recently appointed Clark Hill, a Pittsburgh-based law firm to represent the airport in the lawsuit which alleges that a poorly managed construction project caused stormwater runoff that disturbed the Freedom Industries tank farm below the airport.

At Wednesday’s airport board meeting, Trig Salsbery, an attorney and a board member, said the law firm was preparing a number of factual defenses for the lawsuit, but would begin with a more technical defense.

Salsbery said the airport would argue sovereign immunity, a general legal principle that says you cannot sue the state unless it consents to the suit. Salsbery declined further comment on that line of defense and an attorney with Clark Hill, declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

American International Group, the airport’s insurance company, is covering the majority of the airport’s legal costs.

Salsbery said a group representing the airport had recently visited the Freedom Industries site and that they were preparing a more tangible defense based in part on the visit.

The lawsuit against the airport alleges that the chemical tank -- which leaked a coal-cleaning chemical into the Elk River, contaminating the region’s drinking water -- was corroded from below due to increased stormwater runoff from the airport’s runway extension project.

The airport is directly uphill from the tank farm and the Elk River.

Salsbery said the lawsuit’s argument was not supported by the facts.

“You’ve got surface water sliding down the mountain that could reach that facility, but that didn’t come from any disturbance we did during the runway extension,” Salsbery said. “That’s just surface water that’s been coming down that mountain for years and years.”

Salsbery also said there are plenty of obstacles, including several ditches, at the bottom of the hill to stop water runoff.

A preliminary investigation by the federal Chemical Safety Board found that holes in the chemical tanks “likely initiated from the interior” and that holes in the roof of the tanks likely let water inside, providing a source for corrosion.

The airport has until Aug. 20 to respond to the lawsuit.

Also at the airport board meeting, officials said they were getting closer to deals that could bring direct flights between Charleston and Orlando and between Charleston and the New York City area.

“We’ve got them up to the edge of the cliff, we’ve just got to push them off,” Brian Belcher, Yeager’s marketing director, said about negotiations with airlines for the Orlando route.

In June, airline officials attended JumpStart, a networking event for airports and airlines.

At the conference in Edmonton, Belcher said that they spoke with seven different airlines about the Orlando route, and two of them expressed serious interest.

He declined to name the two airlines, but said that United continues to express interest in a route between Charleston and Newark, New Jersey, but has so far refused to commit.
Belcher pointed out that the airport had to woo Continental for seven years and AirTran for 10 years before the airlines signed on to fly to Charleston.

Anthony Gilmer, the airport’s marketing coordinator, said they’re getting closer to the two new routes, but there’s no timetable because the airlines are selective and opportunistic.

“Close could mean six months and close could mean two years,” Gilmer said. “We know that the people want New York and Orlando, we want it too. The airlines know what we want.”

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Province defends shift from Martin Mars water bombers

Air Tractor "Fire Boss" water-scooping aircraft now in use. 

The provincial government is defending its unpopular decision to halt B.C.'s use of the veteran Martin Mars water bombers in favor of newer aircraft to fight wildfires.

The B.C. Wildfire Management Branch responded as campaigners closed in on a target of 20,000 signatures on a petition urging the premier to reinstate the 1940s-era amphibious plane.

Critics argue the province is spending more money to get less firefighting service than it had with the famous Martin Mars planes.

B.C. instead has contracted the use of four Air Tractor "Fire Boss" water-scooping amphibious planes from the Conair Group of Abbotsford for $2.5 million per season.

The much smaller aircraft are more flexible because they can operate from more than 1,700 lakes compared to just 113 with the Mars.

The new planes can also drop water, foam or retardant on a fire, with an ability to deliver 3,025 litres on a seven-minute turnaround, compared to 19,000 litres with the Mars on a 19-minute round trip.

The branch said in statement the new Fire Bosses delivered fire suppressant twice as fast during the recent West Kelowna fire – 586,000 litres in 11.3 hours – as the Martin Mars dropped during the 2003 Kelowna fire.

"Over the past six weeks, the new Fire Boss aircraft have actioned more fires than the Martin Mars did in six years."

Today there's only one Martin Mars left in the province, owned by the Coulson Group on Vancouver Island.

According to the province, it offered the firm an "as when needed" contract for the 2014 fire season but got no response.

The government statement noted the Mars engines are prone to breakdowns, while if one Fire Boss breaks down the other three can stay in service.

Separate planes can also be split up to attack multiple different targets at once, which officials say is particularly useful in fighting a series of fires after intense lightning.

The Mars, meanwhile, has a large drop pattern that the branch said can make it unsafe to use close to ground crews, who must stop work during a drop, risking the escape of a fire that could have been contained during the initial attack phase.

The province also uses various other air tankers and helicopters in fighting fires.

More than 100 helicopters are currently in use around the province.

The province brought in an additional 153 firefighters from Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick Tuesday, joining 350 other out-of-province personnel.

Air ambulance company has plans for base at Mather Airport (KMHR), Sacramento, California

Santa Rosa-based REACH Air Medical Services has announced plans to operate a base at Mather Airport in October.

The company is currently in discussions with property owners and the goal is Mather, but REACH is considering other options, too.

The base would have a $7 million helicopter to provide emergency services around-the-clock, serve the company’s existing contract with the UC Davis Medical Center and expand service to outlying areas to the east and south, including El Dorado County.

“(It's) is in striking distance of more rural outlying areas and will allow us to provide special services to our hospital partners in Sacramento,” REACH spokeswoman Anna Blair said. “And it’s a great place for employees who commute to work.”

The company announced its intentions now to provide time to hire staff for an October opening. REACH expects to hire 14, including maintenance, aviation and clinical workers.

The company currently uses Sacramento Executive Airport as a base. REACH has a total of 21 bases in California, Oregon and Texas.


WKYC-TV Channel 3 News Investigation: Put-in-Bay, Ohio over-using chopper ambulance?

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio -- During the summer, Clevelanders flock to picturesque Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island for fun, food and relaxation.

The island does not have a hospital or doctor at its disposal.

It is staffed with 14 paramedics with at least one available around the clock, year round. They are also equipped with a medical aid center and a pair of fully equipped ambulances.

But, a Channel 3 News Investigation recently found questionable uses for Life Flight from Put-in-Bay, a far more expensive service that can leave patients and insurers with unnecessarily large bills.

Reports from the past two summers show Life Flight being used for both life-threatening and nonlife-threatening cases.

The Put-in-Bay Police Department along with Ottawa County call logs show patients being flown off the island for intoxication, an anxiety attack, abdominal pain, fingers caught between two boats, allergic reaction and a thumb laceration.

"It's strictly a case-by-case basis. We make the determination by what we see, and sometimes we don't have that much choice because we don't have ferries running," Kahler said. "It's got to be pretty serious for us to call Life Flight".

Peak time for 911 calls runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Reports show Put-in-Bay EMS respond to 85 percent of their roughly 600 calls per year during this span.

"We get all different types of calls here just like any other EMS," explained Manager Keith Kahler. "There's a big myth here that we only deal with intoxicated patients, and that's simply not true."

For serious injuries and immediate care, patients can be sent on a ferry with a paramedic to a nearby medical facility or by way of an air ambulance via the Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center Life Flight/Mobile Life near Toledo.

"If we are going to transport somebody, our first choice is going to be Life Flight because we don't want to go short on staff," Kahler admitted. "Since we only have four people working here on weekends and two people during the week, we don't have the luxury of transporting somebody (via ferry) and them being gone for an hour."

Hospitals officials confirm to WKYC-TV that 14 percent of all EMS calls from Put-in-Bay end up being flown to a nearby hospital.

Health care professionals visiting the island expressed concern on the WKYC investigation's findings.

"That's silly," Cythnia Gaefke of Pittsburgh said. "I'm a nurse. Why wouldn't you just put in an urgent care and have them fixed there?"

Others focused on the money aspect of insurance premiums for the patients.

"The average Life Flight bill is $10,000," said nurse Brittany Shepherd of Willard. "You are wasting Life Flight needs to transport critical patients and giving patients a big bill for something that's unnecessary."

Mercy St. Vincent Life Flight has been in operation for 33 years and was the first medical helicopter program to serve Ohio and Michigan when it began in 1979.

"We're not a fly-by-night service that a lot of other helicopter services are," said Dr. Daniel Schwerin, medical director of Mercy St. Vincent Life Flight/Mobile Life, who oversees the unit. "I love what EMS is doing there on Put-in-Bay."

Story, Video, Comments, Photo:

The air ambulance chopper used by an Ohio resort town is coming under question in a WKYC television investigation.

Acadian heritage to take off with historic flights: Northern Aroostook Regional Airport (KFVE), Frenchville, Maine

FRENCHVILLE, Maine - Acrobatic pilots and historic aircraft will gather Saturday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 10 at the Northern Aroostook Regional Airport for the Acadian Heritage Air Show.

This is the fifth year the airport will host the regional two-day air show. Several changes and additions are planned for this year’s lineup, according to Air Show Director David Fernald, Jr.

A B-17G Flying Fortress, Sentimental Journey, from the Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, will be on static display and provide scheduled rides. The B-17 was the primary bomber used by the American Air Force in World War II.

The show will also feature the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team, the P-51D Mustang Quick Silver flown by Scott Yoak, two Christen Eagle modified Pitts biplanes flown by the Iron Eagles Aerobatic team, a Stearman open-cockpit biplane flown by Bill Gordon, a CJ-6 Nanchang flown by Dan Fortin, and the MXS aerobatic monoplane flown by Rob Holland of Ultimate Air Shows.

The Hotwire Harry comedy routine, from Tiger Airshows, will also be part of the weekend show. Local and fly-in aircraft will also be on display, and food vendors will be at the show.

“This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a great collection of warbirds and high-perfomance aerobatic planes as well as our usual displays and demonstrations from federal and state law enforcement agencies and Customs and Border Protection personnel,” said Fernald Jr., according to the release.

Gates will open at 9 a.m., followed by law enforcement demonstrations and static displays from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Air show performances are scheduled from noon to approximately 4:30 p.m. The schedule may be subject to change due to weather or other factors, according to Fernald.

Ticket prices for general admission will be $30 at the gate, with children 15 and under admitted for free. “Earlybird” tickets are available for $20 until July 31. Beginning Aug. 1, pre-show tickets will be $25 online.

To volunteer, call 207-543-6300.

Read more: St. John Valley Times - Acadian heritage to take off with historic flights

Arkansas delegation announces over $500,000 for airport upgrades

U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman, along with Congressman Tim Griffin announced Wednesday that four Arkansas airports will receive over $500,000 in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration for airport facility upgrades and expansions.

Pryor said, "Our local airports play a critical role in meeting our state's transportation and business needs, I'm proud to support this funding to upgrade our airports and help provide safe and reliable transportation for Arkansans."

Boozman said, "We must continue to meet the demands placed on our infrastructure. These airport investments are important for long term growth and development in our state."

Griffin said, "Modern infrastructure is essential for economic growth, and this funding to enhance our airport facilities will help increase commerce and private sector job creation in Arkansas while improving safety for travelers."

This funding is supported by the FY14 omnibus appropriations bill, which was signed into law in January.  The airports receiving funding are as follows:

Arkadelphia:  Dexter B. Florence Memorial Field will receive $150,525 to update the existing master plan and identify future airport growth and development needs.

Benton:  Saline County Regional Airport will receive $51,000 to fund the design and expansion of the airport apron, which is needed to accommodate the increased use of the general aviation facilities.

Magnolia:  Magnolia Regional Airport will receive $270,000 to support the milling and overlay of the apron.

Ozark:  Ozark-Franklin Count Airport will receive $50,000 to design and make drainage improvements that will help handle stormwater runoff.


Crater Lake - Klamath Regional Airport (KLMT) plans focus on endangered plant

A small plant native to Klamath Falls could become a big problem for the city's airport.

Applegate's milkvetch, an endangered plant found at the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport, was a topic of interest at a Monday work session at City Hall. Members of Klamath Falls City Council and staff discussed how the plants are affecting design of a new runway at the city's airport, and the steps needed to find a solution.

There are about 22,000 Applegate's milkvetch plants at the city's airport, but only 1,000 plants could interfere with the Taxiway J project at Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport, according to city staff. If a solution cannot be reached to design a taxiway that doesn't interfere with the milkvetch plants, Airport Director John Longley said the city should redirect work to Taxiway G. A biologist is slated to study the plant with Operations Manager Bill Hancock next week, and provide more information at a later date.

"While we have worked to address the milkvetch issue, time has been tolling against entitlement funds and carry over to support the project," Longley said in a memorandum.

An altering role

Hancock said the core of the milkvetch plant is subterranean, and modifies alkaline soil so other plants can grow.

"It's like an iceberg," Hancock said. "There's a part of it below ground. It'll grow dormant and in a month, you won't even find evidence of the plant above the surface.

"Bunnies like it," he added.

Councilors agreed that city staff should consider Longley's recommendation to preserve the Taxiway J improvement and Taxiway G work, which would save the city the loss of grant money.

"If (Taxiway) J doesn't work, we have the ability to maintain our initiative on (Taxiway) G," Longley said. "(Taxiway) G will be a win because it will support the (Air National) Guard; it will support aviation in general."

City Manager Nathan Cherpeski said he hoped to receive help from the Federal Aviation Administration to find a solution to the environmental issue.

"We're not the only airport dealing with endangered species issues," Cherpeski said.


Construction pushed back: Clinton Municipal Airport (KCWI), Clinton, Iowa

CLINTON — Weather-related setbacks have pushed completion of the Clinton Municipal Airport renovation to late August at the earliest. Construction originally was slated to be completed in March, airport manager Mike Nass said.

“It’s been a wet spring more than anything,” Nass added during Monday’s Airport Commission meeting at the terminal west of Clinton. “With the extreme weather we had we had to delay it. Then weather in March-April set the project more behind.”

The city hired Clinton Engineering last fall for the renovation, a project that included a new terminal and a storage hangar. Similar to other projects in the city, a record-cold winter followed by a stormy spring and windy summer caused most of the delays.

After the winter delayed completion, Nass said he was hopeful to unveil the new hangar by May 10. Now, optimistically, the construction will be finished by the end of August, but more likely in early September.

“A lot of the delays were due to the severity,” commission member Dave Jacobson said. “Extreme cold weather. High winds. Rain.

Although unfinished, the new hangar already has hosted some occupants. The Quad-Cities International Airport underwent a runway makeover, bringing some company jets up north to Clinton County.

The hospitality, Nass said, encouraged some jet owners to consider CMA’s hangar when the projects are completed. The planes will be removed from the hangar so crews can finish the concrete flooring.

Although the setbacks create less-than-ideal circumstances, Nass and other airport supporters are still eager to unveil the new-look airport.

The delays, at this point, haven’t increased costs to the city, Nass said. Initial cost estimates were for a $1.9 million project, with $637,000 grant funded by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

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Clinton Airport Commission members Lester Shields (left) and Dave Jacobson hear a construction report from municipal airport manager Mike Nass (third from left) during their Monday commission meeting. 
 Photo Courtesy:  Brenden West/Clinton Herald 

City Airport Commission members tour the project. The project, originally was slated for completion in March, received another weather-related setback. 
Photo Courtesy:  Brenden West/Clinton Herald