FAA Helps Orange County Airport Financially

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

April 5, 2006

The Orange County Airport gets about 10,000 flights a year. Whether you know it, or not; residents in Orange are footing part of the bill when it comes to fixing its problems. Now they're now catching a break from the federal government.

Almost every career in aviation begins, and ends at a small airport. The general aviation airport in Orange, Virginia is no different.

"Retired people like me end up flying around a little airport like this, and it was a little airport like this that I learned to fly in. This is what general aviation is all about," said David Hodge, a pilot and employee of the Orange County Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration is all about helping keep the entire aviation industry safe.

One way of doing so is with its airport development program. It is a program designed to help communities across the country make much needed repairs at their local airports.

"It's designed to keep general aviation airports, and reliever airports, and for that matter commercial airports growing and progressing as aviation progresses," added Hodge.

The federal program will give taxpayers a break when it comes to fixing the runway at the 70-year-old airport. It will break it up, and rebuild, rather than relaying it as in the past. The FAA will also replace the lights on the 3,200 foot stretch of new ground.

"It's needed because it was determined that the runway could not survive another cycle of freeze and thaw," said Peggy Miles of the Orange County Airport.

The need brings Orange County's repair bill to more $ 2 million. The FAA along with the state of Virginia will pay 98% the tab.

"Obviously, it's a great benefit to the citizens of the county that this improvement and work on the airport is being supported by state and federal agencies," said Ted Coberly, the Assistant Administrator of Orange County.

County residents here are only expected to pay about 2% of the project's total cost, but that small cost doesn't necessarily free up other money in the county.

"The availability of the State and Federal programs really enables counties like Orange to make necessary improvements to airports and not have them compete with higher priority local projects," added Coberly.

The Orange County Airport will have to partially close its doors for 60 days starting April 13, 2006 so the repairs can get underway.

It is scheduled to re-open with a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 5, 2006.

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