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88 Airports With No Planes or Passengers, Each Eligible for $150,000 of Federal Funds

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by tulianr, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    ARDMORE, Okla. — Along a country road in southern Oklahoma, there is a place that doesn’t make sense. It is an airport without passengers.
    Or, for that matter, planes.

    This is Lake Murray State Park Airport, one of the least busy of the nation’s 3,300-plus public airfields. In an entire week here, there might be one landing and one takeoff — often so pilots can use the bathroom. Or none at all. Visiting pilots are warned to watch out for deer on the runway.

    So why is it still open? Mostly, because the U.S. government insists on sending it money.

    Every year, Oklahoma is allotted $150,000 in federal funding because of this place, the result of a grant program established 13 years ago, in Congress’s golden age of pork. The same amount goes to hundreds of other tiny airfields across the country — including more than 80 like this one, with no paying customers and no planes based at the field.

    Lake Murray, as it turns out, is an ATM shaped like an airport.

    “This is a direct gift from your congressman and senators,” said Victor Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, which handles the money the government allots for Lake Murray. “Everybody’s going to get something here, and we’re going to take some.”

    For advocates of leaner government, the story of Lake Murray’s airport is particularly galling now, as an $85 billion budget cut nears on Friday. The “sequester,” as the cut is known, is what lawmakers call a “dumb cut,” because it doesn’t try to distinguish muscle from fat.

    Within the Federal Aviation Administration, for instance, officials say the sequester could result in the closure of air-traffic control towers and long flight delays. But it would not touch the airport program, which has allotted Lake Murray about $1,500 for each of its takeoffs and landings.

    To make the system more flexible, Congress changed the rules. With FAA permission, states could transfer money from one airport to another.

    In 2008, for instance, the government gave Oklahoma $150,000 to make improvements at Lake Murray. The state spent about $5,500 of that on Lake Murray. The rest went to a build a terminal at a busier airport in Duncan.

    And that turned out to be a good year for Lake Murray. Since then, it hasn’t seen a dime.

    In 2009, its money was split between bigger airports in Muskogee and Ardmore. In the three years since then, Oklahoma has simply banked Lake Murray’s entitlement, storing up $450,000.
    Last year, the parks department asked the aeronautics commission to close the field.
    It just didn’t get it.

    “We have been using it as a source of revenue,” Bird told the commissioners during their meeting, according to an audio recording. In all, he estimated, Lake Murray had brought Oklahoma more than $1 million for other projects over the years. “We will lose that. We will lose that opportunity. Because it will no longer receive — or be eligible to receive — the $150,000 grant,” Bird said.

    At Lake Murray, nothing has changed. On one recent day, afternoon sunshine turned to shadows, which turned to hard dark. The deer came out.

    No planes.

    “They get the money. And then they don’t spend it?” said Keithley, the parks employee, who was standing by the runway and trying to make sense of what he’d just learned. He worked at Lake Murray, but he didn’t understand how the place really worked.

    Yes, he was told. The airport brings in money, which gets spent at other places. “Oh, goodness,” Keithley said, putting it together. He was amused at first, one government employee applauding the ingenuity of others.

    But then he thought about all the afternoons he’d spent in the Oklahoma sun, maintaining an airfield that was meant to attract money, not planes.

    “There’s part of it,” he said, “I don’t find as funny.”

    In Oklahoma, tiny airport attracts federal money, but few planes - The Washington Post
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Hey I wonder if my Road, could qualify.... We could use $150K a year... with that kind of dough, we could PAVE our 2900 Ft with Asphalt, in a couple of years... Goto check into this, seriously.... Momma could even get PAID to Grade it...... and we get at least One landing a week, Minimum....
    tulianr, STANGF150 and TheEconomist like this.
  3. TheEconomist

    TheEconomist Creighton Bluejay Site Supporter+

    do it!
  4. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I put in a call to our State DOT Aviation Division.... They are out... will call me Back.... Yea, Right....
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    +2 !!
  6. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    A well funded monkey is a well fed monkey. You might even open a mechanical museum, mothball the antique grader, (for posterity) and be granted for equipment upgrades.
    You might even think of incorporating these in your runway/road.Solar panel roads to power our homes :cool:
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