Ohio drag strip wants flight restrictions on racing days

February 9, 2011

With a new support group gaining strength in its efforts to keep Ohio’s Norwalk-Huron County Airport open, the FAA is requesting public comments on a racetrack’s request to curtail airport operations on five race dates.

Summit Motorsports Park has requested that the airport be closed or have its aircraft operations curtailed on May 14, June 24 through 26, and Aug. 13 during major racing events so that the airport road can be used to speed auto traffic flows to and from the racetrack. The FAA published a request for comments in a local newspaper Feb. 8.

Pilots and community members have until March 10 to comment on the request “to allow vehicles to egress across the airport runway to support a non-aeronautical event at the Summit Motorsports Park.” The FAA specifically solicited comments on “the associated impacts to aeronautical users.”

“AOPA is pleased to see the FAA take a proactive approach to getting direct user feedback before making a decision on allowing a multi-day temporary closure,” said John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy.

As AOPA reported on Oct. 21, AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Deb Wagner and other local AOPA members have long defended the federal-grant-obligated airport against attempts by local officials to close it and sell the property to the racetrack operator. AOPA encourages airport users and supporters to affiliate with the Friends of the Huron County Airport, and to submit comments to the FAA.

"The process of saving our airport cannot be done by one or two people,” said AOPA member Daniel LeClair, president of the friends’ group. “We need everyone’s involvement and participation if we are going to be successful. If this airport is allowed to be sold and closed, I can guarantee you that politicians throughout this state and country will use us an example to sell and close other facilities. I hope you will all become members, and take an interest in helping us save the Huron County Airport."

LeClair said that being active in the group is possible at two levels. Group members have voting rights, tend to live close to the airport, and can be active in projects. Group supporters may live farther away, and be less active, but believe in the group’s goals. Those goals are “to focus public attention on the Huron County Airport to show its continuing importance and economic value to the community; to promote the use of the airport and airport resources; to encourage financial donations, endowments and bequests from the community to further the development, and enhancement of the Huron County Airport.”

Prospective members and supporters can contact the group by e-mail.

The dates and times when the FAA is considering limiting airport operations in 2011 are:

May 14, aircraft operations permitted on a restricted basis 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
June 24, aircraft operations permitted on a restricted basis 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
June 25, airport closed to all traffic 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
June 26, airport closed to all traffic 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
August 13, aircraft operations permitted on a restricted basis 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Pilots can e-mail their comments to the FAA by March 10, or mail them to the Federal Aviation Administration ACO-100 800 Independence Ave. SW Washington, DC 20591.

AOPA will submit comments addressing the impacts of the proposed closures on the aeronautical users.