September 25, 2008
AOPA Government Affairs staff
In an exciting development for pilots in Texas, workers will soon be breaking ground, literally, to enhance Bird’s Nest Airport in Austin, and make it a vibrant general aviation airport.
Last week, the Austin Zoning and Platting Commission granted the variance approval needed to begin moving dirt for construction of the new 6,025-foot runway at Bird’s Nest, which is owned by Ron Henriksen. AOPA Regional Representative Shelly deZevallos attended the meeting to show AOPA’s support.
“Pilots essentially lost two GA facilities—Austin Executive and Robert Mueller Field—which were homes for about 800 aircraft at the end of 1999,” explained AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn. “After many frustrating attempts to foster a new airport, this is the first viable replacement, and AOPA will work to see it through to fruition.”
The association already has been working to foster the airport. In November 2007, AOPA learned of the Lower Colorado River Authority’s plans for a high-voltage power transmission tower route that would potentially impact the airport.
Hearings on the proposal were set before the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings. In order to protect Bird’s Nest Airport from any negative impact from the power line route, AOPA filed a petition with the administrative law judge to represent GA in the legal proceedings.
The judge granted the petition. For the past eight months, AOPA has provided legal briefs supporting Bird’s Nest Airport and seeking changes to the routing of the line as well as advocating that any transmission lines near the airport should be buried, or the towers should be reduced in height to avoid interfering with the airport’s planned instrument approach.
AOPA also insisted that the tower routing fully comply with the FAA’s Part 77 obstruction criteria.
“AOPA made a commitment to pilots in 1999, and we will continue to be actively engaged in this very important issue and take whatever action is necessary to ensure that Bird’s Nest Airport is able to develop into a first class GA airport with safe, unobstructed instrument approaches,” said Dunn. “The GA community needs this airport. AOPA and the pilot community have invested a significant amount of energy and effort to see this airport built. We’re not going to stop now.”
Pilots should note that during construction, the existing runway at Bird’s Nest will be reduced in length by nearly 1,000 feet. Check notams before flying into the airport.
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Bell Helicopter has made the first delivery of the Bell 429WLG (wheeled landing gear) in North America.
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