Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A new petition to save Horace Williams Airport (KIGX) already has over 400 signatures

Horace Williams Airport is scheduled to close in May, but both UNC students and Chapel Hill citizens have attempted to prevent the closure. With a petition that already has over 400 signatures, founder and vice president of Carolina General Aviation Daniel Schwartz is the latest in trying to save the airport. 

Schwartz said the goal of the petition is to bring awareness to the closing of the airport and hopes that the petition gets over 1,000 signatures.

“People need to understand the history of the place and not only that, but what UNC has done to prevent profitability and to understand its potential,” Schwartz said.

The University has been trying to close Horace Williams Airport since 2002, with the most recent attempt in November 2017. At a Board of Trustees meeting in November, a resolution was passed to close the airport without any pre-conditions. Horace Williams Airport is expected to remove all based planes by May, with the last flight on May 15.

People signing the petition are extremely passionate about keeping the airport open. When giving reasons for signing, people have mentioned everything from how Horace Williams Airport benefits the local economy to the history of the airport.

Local dentist and pilot Keith Taylor said an online petition may not be effective unless the North Carolina General Assembly takes action. 

Additionally, Taylor said the airport is not funded by the federal government, so there are no federal requirements to keep it open. But because UNC is a public university, the General Assembly has the ability to keep Horace Williams Airport open.

In 2002, the General Assembly used their power to mandate that the airport had to stay open until at least 2005. Their intervention may be one of the only hopes to keep Horace Williams Airport alive as May quickly approaches.

According to a statement sent out by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Enterprises Brad Ives, the airport is closing because it is currently losing over $1.2 million, and the runway is facing extensive repair.

In the statement, Ives also said the airport is not a core operation of the University’s mission. However, local pilot and lawyer Bob Epting said he was told the airport will remain open for helicopter refueling for the next several years, even with the official closing of the airport.

“This airport has been a part of aviation education in North Carolina and in particular Chapel Hill for private pilots, for the United States Navy, for World War II, for the flying club after World War II and for all these kids that we’ve flown since then,” Epting said.

Operations at Horace Williams first started in 1928 and, by the time World War II, ended the airport was the largest airport at any university in the country. During World War I and II, operations expanded through the establishment of a United States Navy Pre-Flight School, which trained over 18,000 cadets. Notable graduates of the flight school include former presidents George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.dailytarheel.com

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