DOT: Gliders cannot land on grass

Published 12:49 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ed Ratigan

Ed Ratigan

A Georgia Department of Transportation official said Tuesday that glider pilots who use the county’s airport cannot legally land their gliders on the grass between the existing taxiway and existing runway.

Ed Ratigan, project manager with the GDOT aviation programs, said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners that the gliders cannot use the grass because it is not specifically marked as a “runway” for the Federal Aviation Administration.

“In a nutshell, glider operations and every aeronautical activity at the airport should be operating on the runways,” Ratigan said. “Operating anywhere that is not on a runway is in violation of several things, and is also a safety issue.”

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Ratigan also said that the county likely could not put a grass landing strip between the existing taxiway and runway because it is too narrow. He said that the FAA requires at least 700 feet from center line to center line in order to have “simultaneous operations” on two runaways. While the taxiway and runway are more than 700 feet apart, there is not enough distance to place any additional runways safely between them.

Ratigan said that gliders should be using the existing runway that all aircraft uses, at least until a safe “grass runway” location can be recommended.

He also said that he would be happy to meet with the county’s airport advisory committee at their next meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7, at 1:30 p.m., to explain the GDOT’s reasons for disallowing grass landings.


Breedlove apologizes for ‘lying’ comment

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, County Administrator Gary Breedlove apologized for a comment he had made in Monday’s airport advisory committee meeting.

At that Monday meeting, Breedlove said, “We’ll find out tomorrow [Tuesday] who is lying — whether Lane Bush is lying or the Georgia Department of Transportation is lying.”

Tuesday, Commissioner Dr. David C. “Butch” Mosely told Breedlove that he took offense to that choice of words.

“I’m a little concerned about this comment,” he said. “That’s a little strong.”

Breedlove agreed that he had “used the wrong terminology.” He said he apologized to Bush, as well as county staff.

“I have no animosity toward Lane Bush, and he has none toward me,” Breedlove said. “They were ill-chosen words. I probably should have said, ‘and we’ll move a step forward.’ I used too strong of words, as relates to that.”

Mosely said he accepted Breedlove’s apology.