By STEVEN NALLEY
When it comes to piloting, Barre Seguin said there are two rules where a little extra runway makes a whole lot of difference.
Seguin is the commander for the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus Air Force Base. He talked about some key flight rules at Golden Triangle Regional Airport, where a new runway extension stands to benefit the airport’s relationship with CAFB.
“The first rule is every take-off is optional, but every landing is mandatory,” Seguin said. “Second, there are three things that are useless to a pilot: gas that’s gone, altitude that’s above you and runway that’s behind you.”
Executives at GTR Airport held a ribbon cutting Thursday afternoon for a new runway extension that will reduce restrictions on summer travel and attract larger aircraft.
Mike Hainsey, executive director of GTR airport, said the project increased both the airport’s safety and capacity. The 1,500-foot runway extension, which also includes 1,000 extra feet of safety area, increases the runway’s length to 8,000 feet, Hainsey said. The runway now meets the minimum requirements for CAFB’s T-38 planes, he said, and it also allows current commercial planes to carry their full capacity safely during the summer.
“This will mark the culmination of a six- to seven-year project,” Hainsey said. “400,000 yards of dirt were moved for this project. That’s over 20,000 truckloads of dirt in seven months. The end result is your airport is safer and more capable than it was before.”
The project cost approximately $10.5 million, Hainsey said, and he expressed gratitude to the Columbus Lowndes Development LINK for helping GTR Airport augment its funds with government grants.
“When we went up to D.C. and said, ‘We need money,’ they went up to D.C. and said, ‘They need money,’” Hainsey said.
He also said he was grateful to Burns Dirt Construction for building the extension, the GTRA Board for its support and the people who designed GTRA nearly 40 years ago for their vision and foresight.
“The original blueprints show a 1,500-foot runway extension,” Hainsey said. “They bought everything to where we could someday take advantage of their vision.”
The event was originally planned to feature Doug Murphy, southern region administrator with the Federal Aviation Administration, but his flight from Atlanta to GTR was canceled due to inclement weather. In Murphy’s stead, FAA Southern Region Program Manager David Shumate read a message from Murphy which said the extension put GTRA among the best airports in the FAA’s southern region.
“For transportation projects, you can extend a road 1,500 feet and you’ll be able to travel 1,500 feet,” Shumate said. “When you extend a runway 1,500 feet at Golden Triangle Regional Airport, the possibilities are endless.”