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Don Lee: Work under way at Lawrence County Airport

There are a couple of good news items about the Lawrence County Airport.

The doublewide trailer that is being converted to a FOB office will be getting underpinning to go around the perimeter of the trailer. Most of it is on hand. I am sure Dan Pelfrey would appreciate help to get the job done.

A planned improvement will be the addition of steps and a ramp to access the office. Dan tells me the vocational school personnel have taken an interest in it and will be designing the steps and ramp. Of course, the Tri-State Pilots Association will be buying the lumber and supplies for it.

The other item of great interest for the local pilots, and also the Lawrence County Taxpayers, is the Federal FAA and with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Tri-State Pilots Association (TSPA) providing matching funds for rehabilitating the runway and installing new runway lights.

This will take place this spring and summer starting in May depending on the weather. This will pump an estimated $1.7 million into the economy, at no expense to the Lawrence County Taxpayers. The unfortunate part is the airport will be closed for a minimum of 60 days during some of good weather flying time, including the usual Community Fly Day. I am sure the TSPA will try to plan around this time for the popular fly day.

Another interesting development, especially to the pilots, is some of the trees on the west end of the runway have been cut. The pilots will miss dodging the trees landing to the east. In years past, there have been some who were not able to dodge all the trees. One pilot landing to the east said he wasn’t sure he was landing at Lawrence County Airport, since it looks so different. This clearing was accomplished with the help of the FAA, ODOT and the local TSPA.

The famous long-running Memorial Day Parade will be coming up the latter days of May.

I attended a meeting at Briggs Library in Ironton, where it was mentioned in years past, Lawrence County pilots and others had a flyover during the parade. I feel sure the organizers of the parade would welcome this flying event.

Of course, everyone has been aware of the two tragedies of the crashes of the Boeing 737 Max 8 airliners.

I don’t agree with everything the president says, but I heard he mentioned that maybe the planes are getting too complex to fly. I have wondered about this myself. If the pilots get so dependent on the computer to fly them, will they be prepared to shut down the automation and fly the plane in event of a problem? One news source, Business Insight 3/12, reported that the copilot on the Ethiopian plane had only 200 hours of flying experience. In contrast, a minimum of 500 hours is required of the pilots who fly passengers on Community Fly Day.

Don Lee, a pilot flying out of Lawrence County Airport since 1970, has been in charge of equipment and grounds maintenance for the last several years. He can be reached at eelnod22@gmail.com