April 25, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
Building a runway aligned with strong winds that sweep coastal Robert J. Miller Airpark would make the Toms River, N.J., airport safer and more of an asset to the community, AOPA said at a public hearing on proposed improvements.
John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy, joined about 60 local pilots April 18 in urging the New Jersey Pinelands Commission to enter into a memorandum of agreement with Ocean County to launch several airport improvement initiatives including construction of a crosswind runway at the airport. Many of the pilots among the 150 community members in attendance also testified, describing hazardous conditions that are frequently encountered when the winds blowing perpendicular to Runway 6/24 exceed safe crosswind velocities, as reported in a local news report.
During his visit, Collins toured the thriving general aviation airport with Airport Support Network volunteer James Candeletti, met with airport officials, and inspected the sites of proposed improvements including lighting, marking, expanded ramp space, new T-hangars, tree topping, and relocation of endangered plant species.
In a letter to the commission’s executive director, Collins noted that AOPA—with almost 8,000 members in New Jersey—recognizes the airport’s “unique situation” in being surrounded by the state’s environmentally sensitive Pinelands area. The Pinelands encompass more than a million acres in parts of seven counties.
“The airport contributes to the local economy and is home to a flight training operation, aircraft maintenance facility and an avionics installation facility,” he wrote. “These, along with the natural beauty of the area, attract pilots from along the east coast to experience the Pinelands. Having a first class airport facility is necessary.”
The New Jersey Pinelands Commission could vote on accepting the memorandum of agreement at a June 8 meeting, said the news report.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.
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