December 9, 2010
By Dan Namowitz
A growing airport that sits at the center of the nation’s general aviation industry has taken a big step closer to launching a needed expansion.
On Dec. 8, the Sedgwick County, Kan., Board of County Commissioners voted to approve two measures that would open the way for a runway expansion at Cook Airfield in Rose Hill, Kan. The unanimous 5-0 vote came at a hearing well attended by airport supporters. The vote reaffirmed an earlier action that had been nullified on a procedural error.
AOPA members and airport supporters responded to calls to rally to the airport’s cause, which had faced a partly unfavorable recommendation from the area’s planning commission. That recommendation meant that at least a 4-1 vote of support for the airport was needed from the county commissioners.
In a Dec. 7 letter to Karl Peterjohn, chairman of the county commissioners, AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins urged approval for the two measures—a zoning change and a conditional use request—to allow a “strong, vibrant” GA airport’s expansion to continue.
“Your county is at the center of the nation’s general aviation industry, with numerous aviation businesses and aircraft manufacturers, and six public-use airports including Cook Airfield providing valuable economic impact,” he wrote. “Your support for encouraging the very activities that make this industry necessary is critical and an important symbol for the aviation community.”
Airport owners and AOPA members Steve Logue and Greg Thomas emailed supporters to thank them for turning out. They also cautioned that the bid to expand is not yet complete.
“Even with this victory there is still one more court case involved, and the opponents have the option to appeal today’s decision to the district court,” they wrote.
Local news coverage of the county commissioners’ vote emphasized the safety benefits of the planned runway extension, as well as enhanced availability of medical transportation at Cook Airfield for community members.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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